Ep 1: My Path to Hollywood – Cinematography One on One with Steven Fierberg, ASC

Ep 1: My Path to Hollywood – Cinematography One on One with Steven Fierberg, ASC


What’s your name and what do you do? I’m Steven Fierburg and I’m a Cinematographer or a Director of
Photography depending on what people like to say! What introduced you to
filmmaking? What was it that inspired you? What made you say, this is what I want to do? You’re a kid from Detroit!
I didn’t know anybody in any artistic field at all in Detroit.
I mean, everyone just wanted to be an automotive engineer or an automotive
executive or something. The idea of going into the film industry seemed crazy. I was
just throwing my life away. So I signed up for an engineering major and I got an
advisor engineering advisor. The day before school started I walk into
his office to meet him and he goes. what are you doing here? And I go, well, you’re
my advisor! And he goes, why? And I go, well, I might be an engineering major. And he
goes, no…come here. And he takes me out into the hallway and he shows me
like four guys down the hall with pocket protectors and all the stuff
well you would expect. He says, those are engineers. He goes, you’re much too
interesting to be an engineer, you can’t be one. Then he kicked me out of his
office. And this guy like saw immediately, this guy I’d never met, he saw who I was in a way that everybody I knew in Detroit for some reason couldn’t see. A graduate student took me on set of
documentary they were making about the Chinese New Year and we were waiting for
the parade to start. I saw something going on on the street
and I went down and I looked at it and there was a big Panavision camera there.
It turned out Francis Ford Coppola was filming “The Conversation” and Gene
Hackman was there and I caught his eye and he looked at me like I belonged on
the same earth as him. I went back and I thought, if I was 40 years old and
I was working as a lawyer or doctor what would I think if I went in the
street and ran into people filming and I had I never even tried to do it. I
couldn’t live with myself. And so in that moment I said, that’s it, I’m
going for it. So you have this sort of documentary look in the past but then
also you’re big into Steadicams and these very intricate moves – so it’s a
little dichotomy inside you there! On “Entourage”, yes, absolutely. But now when we
go to “The Affair” there is no documentary feel. You have handheld shots here and
there but there is to me a very beautiful type of light. It’s got a darkness to it;
it kind of almost has a little bit of a brooding nature, but then at times you
have all this pool light which I love. It’s great
you weren’t pigeon-holed for that. No, I love that you’re saying that, I love that
you’re saying that. I have no intention of “The Affair”
looking like “Entourage.” . I like the idea, like what we were saying, is starting from scratch. Like what could this movie
look like? What should it look like? What does the script
tell me it should become? That’s where I’m starting. I really need to read
the script and then try to let it somehow fill me. And then hopefully it gives me a
good idea about how it should then feel. Marshall Herskovitz, who’s a partner of
Ed Zwick, when I was doing “Love and Other Drugs” he said, you do heightened
reality. And I think that that’s something that I actually aspire to. And in general, what I try to do is
something that tends to be fairly naturalistic. You know, it looks like
you’re really in that place and it gives, well it can give, weight to the performances.
Whereas if you light something that’s in a very beautiful but stylistic way. It makes
them more aware of the fact that you’re watching an artifice, which is the movie.
Because the lighting is, even though it’s beautiful, is not something you would
normally see. On the TV show “Entourage” one of the things I did very consciously
is I said, I’m not backlighting these actors because they’re already too damn
good-looking! We’ve got all these twenty year olds who are beautiful and if you
glamorize them it’s gonna make the audience throw up and they’re gonna hate
these characters. And I was very upfront about that fact. I said no I’m not gonna
glamorize them I’m gonna make them look like you just saw them on the street or
you went into a restaurant and that’s what they would look like. And I think
that gave the show in some way gravitas that it wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t
done that. I can’t believe that I came from Detroit and actually made a life in the film industry. When I’m working I go sometimes, how is this a job?! Cuz it’s so much fun. I was just doing this low-budget film in New
York and most people were working on it for free or almost free because they love it.
What a wonderful thing that we we love our job, that we love doing it.

HOW TO CHASE STORMS – For Photography & Spotting

HOW TO CHASE STORMS – For Photography & Spotting


Hank’s storm footage currently airs worldwide in productions from BBC Earth, National Geographic, The Weather Channel and many more You can also see Hank’s lightning captures in Motion pictures “The Last Witch Hunter” and Netflix original “TAU.” The Pecos Hank YouTube channel features educational and cinematic delivery of severe weather as well as frequent encounters with with wild animals and interesting people he meets. while living on the road day to day. He is going to talk about anticipating storm development & transitions for optimal viewing and I think this is going to be some optimal viewing for us. Come on up. Guys thank you so much for having me out here. The welcome has been so warm which is nice considering how cold it is. The commute, I gotta tell you, it wasn’t the smoothest. I flew up from Houston last night And I’m sitting on the plane and next to me there’s a woman and her four year old girl It was the first time she’d ever been on an airplane. And so she kind of had this look of… I’m kinda nervous and I’m excited And we were trying to say this is going to be safe and fun. and the little girl looks out the window and she says… “Wing!” And I said “Yeah, that’s a wing.” And the plane started to back up and she goes… “We’re Flying!” And her Mom goes “We’re not flying yet” And the plane started to move forward and she goes “We’re flying!” Mom said “No, we’re not flying yet” And then the plane gets o the runway and takes off and she sinks back in her seat. Her eyes are the size of small goldfish bowls And here face was teetering o the edge of astonishment and panic. Kind of like that child that’s running… And it falls and hits the ground and you don’t know if it’s gonna laugh or cry. And so you immediately go into preventative maintenance. So we’re taking off and I said “Look at all there sparkly lights!” and she starts to get a smile on one end of her face. And then her mom goes. “Look at the pretty clouds!” It’s working. She’s starting to feel good… And she’s smiling and I’m looking at this child looking out the window seeing the miracle of flight for the first time. And then her smile starts to go away. She reaches up for her head And I thing, Oh no! The change in pressure is starting to effect her. And so I go, “Can you yawn?” And she goes “What?” And I go “can you yawn?” and she goes “What?” And I go, “Go like this.” and she started SCREAMING AND CRYING and backed away from me. Her mom looked at me like, What are you doing? And then it was awkward for a couple hours after that. It doesn’t get any better… So I get to the hotel. It’s about 1AM. And I’m walking into the hotel. And I meet the really nice desk clerk at the beautiful Inn at Waters Edge. He says. “Here’s your clicker. Use this to get in the elevator. It won’t work unless you use the clicker. I said OK. He said use the same clicker to get in your room. I said OK and then walked into the elevator. I hit the button. It starts going up and I’m standing there. We get to level three and the door doesn’t open. I’m thinking Okay… SoIi hit number 3 again. I can kind of hear this whirring. I’m deaf in my right ear so I can hear sounds but I can’t place sounds. I kinda hear this whirring noise. It stops and I’m thinking okay great. I’m stuck in the elevator. So I hit the door open button. And it makes a noise. I’m thinking what do I do? So I start pulling on the door and that didn’t work at all. And I see the emergency ring button and I though… Let me go down and I’ll let them know it’s not working maybe So I hit level 1 and as I’m getting out a woman is walking in. And I said excuse me I done think the elevator is working. and she goes… Really what’s wrong? I said the door’s not opening. and she said “I just took it. It’s fine.” I said Okay. (huh, we’ll see about that!) So I go back up with her. I’m sitting there waiting. I hit 3. I made sure I used my clip. We get to the third level and the door doesn’t open. And so I turned around like “uh huh!” And I look and she’s walking out the door that’s opening behind me. I didn’t know what to say so I just said “I’ll be speaking at the weather seminar tomorrow.” I wanted to talk to you guys about anticipating storm development & transitions for optimal viewing. I’ve been chasing for over 2 decades Over the years I’ve seen some patterns and I’ve learned a few things. And I wanted to share them with you guys. And uh… Some of it might even be accurate. I’m going to take you guys on a hypothetical storm chase. It’s not one of those chases where there’s tomatoes the whole time. Theres going to be a lot of transitioning and a lot of development that we’re going to anticipate. I’ve got a mosaic of radar grabs and different storms This talk is geared more towards photographers and chasers But I think there’s going to be a lot here for spotters as well. A little bit for everybody. Maybe not for little 4 year old girls. If you’ll notice the SPC says “Perhaps supercells initially but with a rapid upscale growth into cell clusters or an MCS So what that means for us burrito aficionados is We want to get on these cells early right? For most of us, it’s probably tomatoes that got us out of bed at 2am. Made us leave our families. Driving all night long drinking truck stop what-not. Some of us lied to our bosses. Some of you bailed on your mom on Mother’s day. So it’s probably tornadoes that are getting us out. We want to see those and monitor those. So we want to get on these cells really easy and really fast. Before the cluster or get messy or become more of a linear mode. And so they’re off. We’ve got discrete cells. Remember how I said we want to be on them, but we’re way back here because We were craving a grand slam. we wanted a hot meal. We’re tired of bananas and gas station sandwiches. So this is where we’d really like to be We’ve got a well developed supercell. A hooking appendage. It’s already severe warned. They surprised us a little early, however this might work in our favor. We’ve got another cell that’s developing down here. It’s heading in our general direction and we can head it off at the pass So this might actually work in our favor. Let’s go see what that cell looks like hypothetically. So here we are underneath the base It’s still got kind of a bow-ish look to it… A heavy downdraft behind it But it’s developing nicely. We’ve got a mean storm so that’s a good thing. Let’s sit and watch it and see where it goes from here. Now we’ve got a pretty good wall cloud right? We’ve got a tail cloud here. The rain-cooled air is condensing sooner. It’s streaming up here. So we know there’s a motion of wind going up through here. We kind of see some spokes here maybe suggesting some inflow coming in up here. And right here the end of that wall cloud has a rounded edge. And up here we can see the towing cumulus towers At our back the inflow is just gushing into the storm We put all this together and we can pretty much calculate this thing is rotating. And here’s our next slide. The same storm maybe 5 or 10 minutes later. And something has happened to it that if we’re hoping to see a tornado we don’t really like. Notice the wall cloud has been kind of blasted in half. It’s no longer got that rounded nub up here. It’s almost starting to look like curtains in your house are blowing outward. This storm is being undercut by cold outflow. Our storm, I think we can anticipate it’s becoming outflow dominant. We all know an outflow dominant storm is less likely to produce a potato. We’ve got kind of a shelf cloud forming here, but notice underneath right here we do have a spin-up. This particular scenario is burrito warned right now We’ve got this rotation here and we’ve all invested a lot into seeing tomatoes We tweeted our forecasts coincidentally 45 minutes after the SPC gave their outlook. So we really want that to be a tornado so that we have something to write home But we know that is a gustnado. Even though it’s underneath the storm still. It’s an easy pick when its pushed out in front of the storm and somebody might argue They’re saying “No, i saw circulation directly above this.” You guys have seen these storms. There’s turbulence everywhere. It’s going to be really hard to not find some kind of rotation above. But in their defense. You can see how it can be an easy mistake. That dust, debris cloud has a very similar appearance. But obviously we’ve got a funnel cloud above that. That’s obviously a potato. What about this one? This is actually a tornado. There’s clear rotation co-located directly above that. So gustnadoes and tornadoes can be a little tricky to decipher. We look back at our storm now and it’s clearly an outflow dominant storm. At this point we’ve got a lot of options. Let’s look at some of those options of what we might want to do in order to, or anticipate with this storm. A lot of people go home at this point they say “Eh, I’m done.” So we’re right here. One of our options is to back up. A lot of times when you have these lines forming you back up, roll the time lapse and get these beautiful structures Of storms approaching. And it might look something like that. Notice we can see the lightning. We got a shelf cloud forming here. Or it might look something like that. I’m going to come to this monitor and give this monitor some attention. So that’s one of our options. But a lot of us have seen that so we might want to do something different. So let’s go back to our radar. Ok, we could let the storm overrun us and that could be really neat. You get up in that and its really eerie. So that’s another thing we can anticipate to see when that shelf cloud overtakes you… Is to see the “whales mouth.” Now notice that we’ve got several tornado warnings on this mosaic that I put together here. We could come up here to this QLCS or this tornado warning right there. But generally as you guys know the odds of seeing that tornado are really slim. There’s probably going to be a slim window of there even being a tornado. And that can be a wild goose chase. However if we were there, It might look something like that. They’re generally not these beautiful amazing burritos. They tend to be weaker, but not always. Another option. We could come up here. It looks like we’ve got a supercell embedded along this line. That can happen in kinks sometimes. Other times it was perhaps that other supercell that we initially wanted to be on and as the line came, the supercell was so powerful that it was able to retain its identity. So we could go up there and see that. I generally don’t mess with those unless there’s nothing else. It might look something like that. They generally for me in my cases they tend to be more high precipitation The odds of seeing a tornado in that are really slim. And it can be really dangerous as well. Maybe we’d get lucky and see something like that. Obviously I think we all know what we should do. We want to go down here to Tail-End-Charlie, the tail end of the line. That’s probably going to be a better place to see Just have more visibility and it’s the more likely place i think to see a photogenic tornado. And if we were right there looking at the storm, it might look something like that. You can see it’s multicellular. There’s a couple cells. The second cell actually has a pretty good wall cloud directly underneath the updraft here So let’s drive up close to that and lets keep a better eye on that. Now we’re underneath the base and it’s looking a bit meaner than the first cell we were on. It’s a little more rounded. It’s not so bow-ish looking. It feels meaner. It looks meaner. It’s starting to look more like a mesocyclone. I like the words “supercell structures.” They’re kind of hybrids between not a supercell and a supercell. We’re going to watch this one and see what happens. One thing we’ve all noticed is sometimes you see this uptick in cloud-to-ground lightning frequency. Generally we associate that with storm strengthening. Sometimes, about once a year I’ll run into one of these storms and the cloud-to-ground lightning activity is so intense. Every two to three seconds BAM! Thousand-one, thousand-two BAM! Thousand-one, thousand-two BAM! I’m probably exaggerating a little bit It’s really amazing to see this. You can feel the energy in the atmosphere. So sometimes with this frequent cloud-to-ground lightning activity we can anticipate generally storm strengthening. At least I do. Here’s another cloud-to-ground lightning strike Now the base is kind of getting over us. On this day the cells are moving really slow. We feel kind of confident we can be underneath the base a little bit. It’s still not looking that tornado-ish yet. But notice the two little trees right here… That’s foreshadowing. Here’s another strike. Here’s our two little trees here. This storm was really amazing. It took me a lot of discipline to not use the word “insane” just now. Just in my field of view, I got multiple CGs crashing right in front of me. I’m not even getting the ones that are here or behind me. And then here’s our next shot. POW! Nails the tree. And this is probably not the brightest thing… to do! You can see we’re kind of elevated. Lightning is striking and getting closer and closer. This strike caught the tree on fire. And then right after that, Boom! Another one. I thought it hit the tree again but it was actually about 20-30 yards behind the tree. Behind that tree there’s some kind of structure. A metal phone booth… With an antenna and gears I call it the port-o-potty from space. But it nailed that. Ok at this point it’s time to do like they do on Holy Grail and runaway! Runaway! Ok, Skip has some really compelling theories about tornadogenesis and I have some too I want to share with you guys. Like his, it’s widely debated. But I have found out, and have multiple occasions to back this up… That if you look at a storm and you say “Eh, you’re kind of wimpy” And if you turn your back on it, it makes a tornado. I’m just going to throw that out there. I heard somebody say it’s true. Who said that? Yep! Alright, our storm is mean now. We got a mesocyclone. We got a fat tail cloud. We got a funnel cloud there. It’s probably a tornado. But notice our storm is starting to fill up with rain. And we get kind of an ugly tornado that’s rain-wrapped. This burrito was very transient. And then our storm… lets say it goes outflow dominant. A lot of times when you go on these storm chases, it’s not drive to one cell, and you follow that cell like Skip got to do on his last chase. That generally doesn’t happen. There’s a lot of transitions. You go to your first cell early in the day. that cell isn’t in quite the right environment. So you run over here and get on that cell and it doesn’t quite do the right thing. So the typical storm chase, storm chasers are bouncing around a lot waiting for their right cell. On thing I want to point out, another amazing phenomenon that you can see… We’re going to call this a typical negative cloud-to-ground lightning strike. We’re calling it that because it had several flickers. it was a DUDUDUDU! Now watch this next lightning strike. It’s got a different look to it right? It’s got this smooth channel. There’s no branching on it. And generally we call these positive lightning strikes. Positive lightning sticks really do well with video. Even if you have a camera with a rolling shutter. They nail the ground. the pulse is long. Just one good BANG! It really registers well. So these are really neat, these smooth channel positive lightning strikes. Here’s another one here. Same storm. Here’s another one here. They have this crazy bending. Who here has seen these before? A guy Sam here gave me his calendar earlier. Man, you have a great one by the way. In that calendar you have one of these and what I like about your picture Sometimes we call these branchless lightning, but i assure you there’s branches it’s just aloft. In your picture, the clouds open up aloft and your seeing the recoil leaders up above And then below the base in the boundary layer you’re seeing the smooth channel. So it’s a really great picture. I wish I had it to show these guys. Ok here are some more of them. This is a stacked image. But look how straight that lightning channel is. So that’s something I think is really neat and I wanted to share with you guys. Ok we’re looking back at our storm. It’s clearly outflow dominant again. It’s starting to get a shelf-ie cloud look to it. It’s still gnarly under here. But again our storm went outflow dominant. So I think it’s time to go back to the radar and asses the situation. So if you look here there’s no more burrito warnings. And that doesn’t look like a supercell at the tail end of that, however… Something has happened. When you see these lines like this. This happens many times. That’s part of the initial wave but a lot of storm chasers are biding our time. We’re waiting for a cell to fire up prefrontal line in that warm sector. When that happens on some of these volatile days, We’re like… Alright, it’s business time. Right there. We’ve got a cell. If we turned around it might look something like this. It’s already got a good velocity couplet. The cell on this day is moving really slow. We’re up here but we’re confident we can go in front of this cell. We’ve got plenty of time. We’ve calculated it. So we’re going to anticipate this storm moving right up here right where the NWS says it’s going to. And we’re going to drive right in front of it And it might look something like that. So we’ve got our base here. We can see the anvil cloud. It’s blossoming over us. At this point all we gotta do is let it come to us. But let’s drive south a little more and maybe we have something like that. So we’ve got an LP supercell forming. We’ve got a clear mesocyclone and we’re standing there. Warm air is blasting at our back. Our tripod sometimes flies off and we look really silly. But guys, I’ve got to do the disclaimer. I gotta say it. I don’t know the politically correct words to emphasize safety and then show you what I do. It’s a contradiction. So I’m going to go with my disclaimer and that’s, I’m a professional guys. Please don’t try this at home… Because you’re probably going to have to wait a long, long time. You gotta drive to Oklahoma. (crickets) For those of you that are watching at home… Nobody laughed at that last joke. And there is is. There’s the classic shot that we love. The supercell structure. We’ve got the tail cloud. We’ve got the tornado. Oh man, I want to get a little closer and get a good shot of that. I definitely think that is too close. We should probably turn around. Oops You didn’t see that one slide. Ok so now our storm has a long track (tornado). It’s been on the ground 30 minutes. More and more rain is starting to fill up that updraft. It’s getting more and more dangerous by the second. This particular one was on the ground 90 minutes. EF4… The longer it’s on the ground the more it tends to get rainier and rainier. And then the bear’s cage turns into a bomb. It’s high precipitation. There’s still a burrito on the ground in there. We’re probably not going to mess with that. It’s getting dark. And then our storm… Let’s say, again it goes outflow dominant. There might be a surging cold front that finally caught up. But whatever reason, the whole storm is becoming a line again with really pretty structure. and now it’s time to go back to the drawing board. What do we want to do here? This is a time that I really love. Lets say the tomato threat has been mitigated. Maybe we wan to shoot into some of that orange and get some lightning strikes with the orange. That’s always nice. But I want to be on the other side of this storm right here. Here’s why. So we look at our GOES image… and out here to the west there’s nothing. Nothing but sunlight. Once that sunlight gets underneath that anvil, magic is about to happen. Another cool thing is we might have some above anvil cirrus plumes right here.. If you haven’t heard about above anvil cirrus plumes yet, you will. Ok we’re driving. We turn around and look back. the sunlight is getting underneath it. So we’re getting this really pretty red turbulence. We’re not worried about potatoes. Pretty spectacular sight if you’ve never seen that. Now we’re on the other side. There’s no more rain. And this is kind of what we wanted to see right here. This is what we anticipated. Was… that. We’ve got the sunlight… That beautiful magic hour look and we’ve got this short window where sunlight got below the anvil. Before it goes down we’re going to get those bright reds And pretty lightning. Let’s turn our heads. What’s to the right? Awesome! Rainbow and lightning. The red goes away. Another thing we want to see. What’s to the north of us? That’s what we wanted to see. Who doesn’t love looking at mammatus clouds? It’s getting darker and darker now. More and more lightning activity is becoming visible. This storm is highly electric! Now it’s completely dark. There’s so much lightning activity we can really make out the cloud features. Again what’s so special about being on the back side of this is there’s no danger to me as long as I’m far enough away from the CGs. You can just sit there and GAWK at these beautiful lightning displays, colors and cloud shapes. Ok, that’s probably where we are. the line is still growing and zippering down like this. But there’s something developing right now that if you’re a lightning lover and you see that radar image, you’re like, “That’s where I want to be.” In the trailing stratiform region behind this bowing segment there’s a lot of lightning activity. That’s where we want to be because that is where some of the most erratic, crazy lightning discharges tend to occur. We’re going to start driving up into that. The first thing we start to see is anvil crawler lightning. Everybody here has seen anvil crawler lightning right? This is upward-moving lightning. Upward-moving lightning tend to initiate from tall objects. So you get into that trailing stratiform region, you find a radio tower and you wait. and eventually you’ll see lightning shoot up out of that tower. When it hit the base of the cloud there tends to be a screening layer there… A charged screening layer. And thank goodness for that because it hits that and blossoms out in all directions. And then… I’ve heard of three, but six? Now I’ll walk you through what’s happening. You’ve got this lightning strike. This one comes down. It hits the ground. When it hits the ground there’s an abrupt change in the electric field and actually triggers all these. This hits the ground and then boom! Six of these leap up into the sky. And then… Bam. That happened. I’m tearing up looking at it. One of my all-time favorite moments. I had never even heard of this before. 14 upward propagating positive leaders leaping up. What the heck is going on? Look closely you’ll see wind turbines. So wow! What an amazing storm chase we’ve had together. We’ve seen some amazing things. But we’re not done yet. It’s 2am. There’s one thing we haven’t seen. I think what we’re going to do now is drive away. We’re going to back away and here’s the storm. We’ve got the anvil cloud right here. And we see a red sprite. Discharges that are shooting out of thunderstorms 50 lies into the mesosphere. If you love nature and if you love thunderstorms I highly recommend that you guys go out and have a look at these mesoscale convective systems. They’ve brought me a lot of joy and I know you guys share the same enthusiasm and I know you’re going to see some amazing things. So thank you so much everybody!

Camera ASMR – Photography Sounds

Camera ASMR – Photography Sounds


Hello – thank you for tunning in Today, we’re going to stroke some of that GAS that you’ve been holding onto You hear that? That’s the sound of fresh photography gear calling out to you. If you buy that brand new camera… You’ll be as good as Peter Mckinnon And he knows it… He doesn’t want you to buy that new camera. Cause you’re a threat Let’s move on to the good stuff… If you get that new camera body and lens You’ll have all that creamy bokeh Creamy background So blurry… Everyone will love you You’re so good. Everyone loves it, instagram loves it Get ready You hear that? That’s the sound… of Tony Northrup… being emasculated by your Instagram filters… You’re so good… You’re so good… Everyone loves it… We’re now going to load our photos onto Instagram… ooooo aaaaaa You’re an influencer… You’re better than Brandon Woelfel… They just don’t know it yet… Now we wait… You hear that? That’s the sound of your photographer insecurities being liked away… So good…you’re so good… And now…for the grand finale… The memory cards… Two…memory cards slots… Ahhhh oooo You’re double card slotting it… Two of them… Imagine that… Two…and just one of you… Talent is over rated… Get the best camera… The most expensive camera… With two card slots… That’s all the time we have for today. And remember… Thomas Heaton switched to Sony so you should too…

Telling Stories:  Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg

Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg


Hi everyone, I’m Virginia Mecklenburg,
curator of the exhibition, ‘Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’. It’s on view here at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. We are very pleased to be able to do this show, because it offers a new take on Rockwell. It turns out, that Rockwell was incredibly tuned in
to what was going on in pop culture and especially to movies in the film industry. It also turns out, that two of the great
film makers of our own time see Rockwell as a kindred spirit and they have become major collectors of his work. This podcast will highlight some
of the themes the exhibition explores and you will hear George Lucas
and Steven Spielberg talk about what Rockwell and his pictures mean to them I’ll fill in with commentary, and
a few quotes from the artist. Telling Stories has been organized by
the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Booz Allen Hamilton has provided
very generous support as the corporate sponsor of the exhibition. Who is Norman Rockwell? You probably recognize Rockwell’s name even if you don’t know anything else about him. But for 50 years we was probably
the best loved artist in the country. He started out when he was just a kid. His first real job was doing covers
for the Boy Scout magazine Boys Life in 1912. Four years later, he was doing
covers for the Saturday evening post. One of the most popular magazines
in the country, at the time. What is it about Rockwell’s pictures that appeals to us now more than 30 years after he died? Well, he makes us laugh, and he makes us think, and he shows us who we are and what we care about. Each picture tells a story. So we think of him as a kind of a visual narrator. But he thought of himself as a movie director. He auditioned models who became his cast, He picked out all the costumes, and even acted out their roles, so the models would understand
exactly what he had in mind. Here is George Lucas. The key to Rockwell is that he is a great storyteller and he used cinematic devices to tell his stories and he cast the painting. The characters in there are characters. They are designed, they are written,
and they are put in there very specifically. It is not a random group of people. Each one – their face, their expressions,
their thinking, everything about them has been cast. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg
were kids in the 1950s. Both of them grew up looking at pictures
on the cover of the Saturday evening post. Steven Spielberg remembers it well. Whenever my dad would bring home
a Saturday evening post, Norman Rockwell was the cover art often. And so often, in fact, that I just looked forward not to even to opening up the post to see what was inside. I was mainly interested in seeing what story this painter was telling on the cover. Well, I grew up in the hayday of the Post magazine. So, you know, we subscribed every week or so we would get a picture and I would enjoy it. I became a fan of Illustrators, I liked drawing, I liked art. I especially liked magazine illustration. I came from a small town in central California. I gew up in the Norman Rockwell world
of burning leaves on a Saturday morning. All the things that are in Rockwell
paintings, I grew up doing and it was a part of my life. So there is a very strong nostalgic
pull for me with Rockwell. I think growing up on Rockwell
is probably a very big influence on why I felt so comfortable when I
got into the movie business. because I understood how you developed
character and tell stories using the visual median. I started collecting at a very young age and in the beginning the only thing
I could really collect was comic art. Because that was all I could afford. It was very, very inexpensive. And then, after I did American Graffiti I had enough money to actually buy real paintings or at least real drawings. I think the first Rockwell I ever collected was a calendar of winter and then I think summer came along, and I got that one. You know, a matching of the same year. Then as time went on, and I acquired more resources
then I was able to buy bigger and bigger works. The very first painting I collected was a painting called, ‘Daniel Boone Comes to Life’. It was wonderful because it kind of was, you know, speaking to me on a whole other level. When I would sit down in front of my type writter to try to write a story for a movie I would often just sit in front of the type writter you know, waiting for that little thought bubble
to appear over my head. Producing an image that would get my fingers stanching on the keys and that was very evocative for me that he was imagining Daniel Boone before he actually began to write about him. There’s a lot of portrayals in Rockwell’s paintings of kids entertaining themselves, having a good fantasy life, having fun, and playful. That’s what I was trying to capture in Star Wars. The boy imagining, that really is a painting about imagination. The boy reading and you see behind
him the knights and all the things. It’s a story celebrating literature, the magic that happens when you read a story, and the story comes to life for you. Which again is something very simple,
but it’s something that is very profound that we all went through. Really no matter what culture we are from. I have several paintings that revolve around entertaining and entertaining young people. Which is what I’ve ended up doing in spite of myself. But, the shadow maker, where you
are doing shadow puppets on a wall and the awe that the kids have. Again just seeing it from their
point of view over their shoulder. You know, he is very good at expressing ideas through other people. Just by the tilt of the heads, just by their body language, you can tell that they are completely
fascinated by what they are watching. You can see kind of the pride of this working on the part of the shadow maker. Also I have the toy maker. Which is where a kid is watching
this thing being created in front of him. The idea that storytelling and
the use of awakening children’s imagination obviously means a lot to me, so that’s why a lot of those Rockwell paintings depict that. At the core of Americans is a wish to have this innocent, naïve life. A lot of young people have that innocent, naïve life. So, even though the images may be dated the content is not. We are now, in this day and age, actually
going through a visual metamorphosis with digital technology and the way kids grow up. That may date all of this stuff rather dramatically. Because kids, their experiences are so much
different then the kids of the ’20s and ’30s. In terms of the way they play and so much of what
Norman Rockwell does is play. But, the awe, the simple awe of watching a toy be made, or playing baseball, and somebody arguing those things are eternal. In 1930, Rockwell had a chance to see
the movie industry first hand. An old friend invited him to come to Los Angeles to cheer him up after a recent divorce. Rockwell was thrilled. He said he had been thinking of doing
a Saturday evening Post cover. In his words – of a raw boned glamorous cowboy dressed in chaps, boots, and spurs having his lips painted by a hard bitten
little makeup man. Well, his friend took him to see the publicity director at Paramount Pictures who said, “how about Gary Cooper?” Cooper’s latest movie, The Virginian, had been a big hit. He was about to begin shooting a
western called, “The Texan”. Take a look at the props. Sure enough, Cooper has on boots, chaps, and a quill vest and is sitting on a fancy saddle with his
Stetson on the ground beside him. He is the quintessential macho cowboy. When I first saw, The Texan, I was amazed at how colorful and almost
how feminine Gary Cooper’s makeup was with the rouge and the lipstick. The makeup artist was actually preparing
him for a black and white role not for a color motion picture. In black and white, in order to
accentuate the cheek bones that’s how people were made up in
those days for black and white photography. That’s how they were made up all through the silent era. It was absolutely authentic to the period in which it was painted. It was great to see Gary Cooper sitting there a complete thorough professional routinely having his makeup put on before he would get on his horse and do something utterly heroic. In Hollywood, Rockwell saw
potential stories everywhere. Movie Starlet & Reporters is a
classic image of a young actress on tour. Stardom is supposed to be exciting and glamorous but she is clearly bored by having to talk to a bunch of
scruffy looking journalists. Yeah, I think the Starlet, you know, has a real feeling of a kind of modernity in the sense that she is surrounded the paparazzi. In this case, it’s the press trying to get a quote and she is zoning, she is just sort of
taking herself another nicer place and she is pretending that they are not even there. You see that on her face. The young woman sitting at the frilly dressing table is a hometown glamor girl. She looks a lot like Jean Harlow. The star of the Frank Capra movie, Platinum Blonde and she wears one of the most
famous fashion items of the day. Her dress is an adaptation of one that
Joan Crawford wore in the film Letty Lynton. The dress was such a hit that Macy’s sold something like 500 thousand
copies in its department stores. This is a little tidbit of information that was
certainly not lost on Rockwell. Then and now, thousands of young men and women
came to Hollywood every year hoping to be discovered. In Rockwell’s day, professional
models had the best chance because their faces were already familiar
from ads in magazines and newspapers. In fact, two of the women who modeled
for Rockwell glamor girl images actually signed movie contracts
after producers saw their pictures in Saturday evening Post covers. But most of them were not that lucky. They ended up waiting tables or working odd jobs like the hat check girl in this painting. It’s called, The Convention. Rockwell is sympathetic. She looks exhausted, discouraged but you have to laugh at the pile of coats
and the little red ticket she’s holding. How will she ever get all those things
back to their rightful owners? During this trip to Hollywood, Rockwell met and married Mary Barstow. Over the next 20 years, they went back to California fairly often so their three boys could visit their grandparents. Rockwell always took work with him and the movie studios had him do
portraits of movie stars for film posters. He even became a favorite of Hedda Hopper the famous gossip columnist. She wrote about him in her
syndicated newspaper feature. It was called, ‘Looking at Hollywood’. Rockwell also had a serious side. You know, it was interesting Rockwell, in a way, you know, he pushed a benign but important agenda of a kind of community of a kind of civic responsibility and also a civic responsibility to patriotism. You know, to understanding our nation
by embracing our neighbor. He did this in one frame with one image. He did it from many different approaches to always the same theme which was tolerance of the community, of each other, of parents – great respect for parents, of presidents, of Boy Scouts of America, of our veterans and soldiers fighting abroad. Rockwell painted all night long to finish this portrait
of Charles Lindbergh for the Saturday Evening Post. Lingbergh was the latest American hero. It was the summer of 1927. Lindbergh had just landed in Paris after flying solo for 33 hours across the Atlantic. The flight was touch and go. The plane was so loaded with fuel that when it took off, it barely cleared telephone lines
at the end of the runway in New Jersey. The weather was bad. He flew all night long through rain and sleet
before finally sighting land. It was such a historic moment that Rockwell named the painting, ‘Pioneer’ and compared Lindbergh to Christopher Columbus, and to the pioneers that crossed the continent
to settle the American West. On either side of Lindbergh’s portrait Rockwell included pictures of Columbus’ ship the Santa Maria and a covered wagon. Lindbergh’s own plane, The Spirit of St. Louis,
is in the background. Lindbergh shows up again in Spirit of America. This was the picture on the
Boy Scout’s calendar for 1929. Rockwell painted a scout at the center and behind him, in a sort of hazy blue, we see profiles of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodor Roosevelt, Benjamin Franklin, a pioneer in a coon skinned cap, and a Native American chief in a feathered head dress. Lindbergh is over on the right. He is the young man with the goggles on his head. Putting all these people in the same picture was Rockwell’s way of connecting the
Boy Scouts with great Americans. The Boy Scouts were part of making one American great, Steven Spielberg. I’ve wanted to own a lot of the Boy Scout paintings because, you know, the Boy Scouts was a very important part of my life growing up. The Boy Scouts gave me the opportunity
to discover film making. When I went for a photography merit badge and I made a little eight millimeter movie and the Boy Scouts in my troop 294 of Scottsdale, Arizona liked the movie and made a lot of noise and laughed and clapped and all that. I got that great virus of
I’ve got to do this the rest of my life. I think Rockwell saw the Boy Scouts as you know, young men, on the homefront who could do good deeds. Not just help old ladies across the street, but young boys that would be there at the ready to help you in any situation. I mean, Rockwell, I think, loved the Boy Scouts
the way he loved the American military. Rockwell was well known by the 1940’s
because of his magazine covers. During WWll he really became a household name. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor
on December 7th, 1941 Rockwell donated a poster to help the war effort but he didn’t feel like he was doing enough. He said he wanted to make a bigger
statement about why we were fighting but he just couldn’t figure out how. One night when he couldn’t sleep he had a flash of inspiration. One of his neighbors had spoken out in town meeting and even though just about everybody
disagreed with him Rockwell said, “they let him have a say no one shouted him down my gosh, I thought, that’s it! There it is, freedom of speech.” A world founded upon four essential human freedoms. I’ll illustrate the four freedoms president Roosevelt talked about in his state of the union speech and use my neighbors as models. Freedom of speech and expression. Freedom of Speech, New England town meeting. Freedom from want a Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll put them in terms everybody can understand. Any neighbor, any where in the world. The Freedom of Speech painting in our show is an early version of the final painting. I like how rough and sketchy it is, you know, often Rockwell’s studies some of them were indistinguishable
from the final painting. But this one was truly a study. It’s got, it’s got a lot of, I guess, true grit. It’s got texture. It’s just a little bit blurry. As often, lines of our own personal freedoms have been made to seem blurry over the last decade, at least. A lot of Rockwell’s magazine covers during WWII showed soldiers on the homefront. He said he came up with the idea for
‘Little Girl Observing Lovers on a Train’ one day when he himself was on a train packed with service men who were
traveling with friends and family. It’s a funny picture. But it also says a lot about the way Rockwell worked. He talked the Rutland Railroad people into parking a train car on a siding in Arlington, Vermont near his studio. He had the models pose on the train while his photographer took
dozens and dozens of pictures. Then he started making sketches. When he had worked out all the details he made a very large, very complete drawing that he copied onto canvas for the final painting. Sometimes though, he wanted to make changes even though
the drawing was mostly finished. So, instead of starting over he pasted a piece of blank paper over the part he didn’t like and he drew it again. You can see this in the paper patch that runs from the airman’s right shoulder all the way over to the left side of the drawing. Well, with Norman Rockwell, the the sketches, the pencil sketches are as illuminating and interesting as the paintings are. In a way, I feel that his craft as a sketch artist is with pencil is actually more interesting sometimes then the
final painting turns out to be. When the war was over, Rockwell did several Post covers showing service men back home. One of them, it’s called ‘Back to Cities’, shows a real life flying fortress pilot
in the bedroom where he grew up. The stuff on the dresser and the pictures on the wall tell us a lot about his life both before and after he went to war. We even know his name Lieutenant A.H. Becktoff. It’s on his duffle bag on the floor. The insignia on his uniform jacket hanging on the chair tells us that he served with distinction. He received the air medal twice. Look closely, the blue and yellow ribbon has a tiny oak leaf cluster I think in the Rockwell painting, Back to Cities it establishes that when he went
off to war, time stood still. It probably stood still for as long as you know, the hearts of his mother and
father stood still waiting and praying for his safe return. So that bedroom represents that suspended animation when young boys go off to war and
they come back men. Now in this case, he came back from war and he still was a boy, he just was a bigger boy. He is tall, none of the clothes fit but everything in the room is pristine exactly as he left it. Unlike so many veterans that come back from from mortal combat they return to civilization and they are changed forever but he has not been changed forever. The only thing that happened over the three or four years he was gone was he grew out of his clothes. In 1937, the Rockwell family moved from New Rochelle, just outside New York City to a farm house in Arlington, Vermont. It was a great place for Rockwell’s
three sons to grow up. They could roam around the countryside, swim in the river, basically live the care-free boyhood life that Rockwell painted in his pictures. But in Vermont, Rockwell didn’t have easy access to the professional models who posed for him in New York. So he started using friends and their children. The people he chose were everyday citizens a lot like the characters in the
famous Frank Capra movies, like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, and it’s a Wonderful Life. Capra’s and Rockwell’s people are ordinary heros just because they do the right thing. In terms of, if you look at a period of time, and in this case say the 30’s, the late 30’s early 40’s, he perfectly portrayed the American sensibility. Now, in movies that same sensibility was portrayed by Frank Capra, and other directors who had that sort of idealistic, fantasy, vision of what we wanted America to be, or what
we thought America was. Most of Rockwell’s models were thrilled to see their pictures on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. But not everyone wanted to think of
themselves as ordinary. Rockwell said he had a lot of trouble convincing two neighbors to pose for a picture of two charwomen sitting in a theater. He said he had to promise them that they were only acting as charwomen and that no one would think the worse of them for it. With the two women sitting in a theater reading Playbill, it shows, I mean they work there they are cleaning the place up, but they actually have a fascination with theater. It is more to them then just a job and they are interested. It’s showing that they are actually interested
in the place they work. Even though they have been separated by their status. But you can still imagine them sneaking up once in a while and watching shows. You can imagine them watching the rehearsals. You can image them being proud of the fact that they work in a theater, even though all they are doing is pushing a broom. Most of us had a favorite teacher
when we were growing up. Someone who was our own personal hero. Rockwell did too. He painted, Happy Birthday Mrs. Jones,
as a tribute to his 8th grade teacher. She was the one who had encouraged him
to draw when he was a kid. The painting of Happy Birthday Mrs. Jones you just know by looking at the painting and
looking into the teacher’s face that she loves every single student in that classroom including the class clown with the eraser
balanced on his head. You just feel the warmth in that classroom, and you feel that this is the best birthday gift
anyone has ever given her. In Happy Birthday Mrs. Jones, you see the kid’s faces through her reaction to them. You know what their faces are looking like even though you can’t see them. Of course in film making we strive for that,
we strive to get images that convey visually a lot of information without having to spend a lot of time at it. Norman Rockwell was a master at that.
He was a master of telling a story in one frame. Rockwell tells us a lot in the image. We know that Mrs. Jones has just come in the door. She is still holding her hat and coat. We can tell from the crushed pieces of
chalk on the floor that the kids had to rush back to their seats when they heard her coming down the hall. Story telling was very important with Norman Rockwell because you see every single picture told a specific story, everyone has either the middle or the end of a story. You can already see the beginning
even though it’s not there or the middle, you can see all
the missing parts of the story. Because he took that one frame that tells everything that you need to know. Rockwell is probably best known for his pictures of kids. He painted mischievous boys, lady like girls, and the funny things we all did when we thought
we were so grown up. Rockwell’s pictures of kids are particularly meaningful for George Lucas. Well, in one particular piece, which is The Runaway, which is the boy with his little pack of worldly belongings sitting sort of
out next to a police officer. It’s amusing, it’s part of American rituals of children’s need to break away you know, in that case it’s very ritualistic. Which again is part of what I like, I mean, I I sort of tend towards the more anthropological side of art. I’m very interested in, what does it say about us? What does it say about our culture? That particular thing of how young people express themselves when they are trying to become independent. Even, you know, before they reach the teenage years is always fascinated me, and I like images that record those kinds of events. That’s a particular, for whatever reason, emotional piece for me, I really like that. Many of Rockwell’s pictures are funny but there is a lot of truth in them, too. Rockwell used his son Peter as the model for the boy
on the high diving board. Peter remembered the day he posed. He said his father always said a good model had to be able to raise his eyebrows halfway up his forehead to look surprised. Peter said, and these are his words, “I could never get my eyebrows up that far except for that terrible time when I had to crawl out on the end of a board he had rigged up to extend from the studio balcony.” Remember that magazine cover of the frightened
kid out on the end of a diving board? The boy with his eyebrows all the way up to his forehead? Well that was me, and I was scared stiff. I’ve always loved that painting. It was only later after I I added that painting to my collection that
I discovered that the boy on the 3 meter high diving board peeking over the side was Rockwell’s son. That painting means a lot to me because we were all on diving boards hundreds of times during our life and taking the plunge or pulling back from the abyss taking a great risk with the status quo of your own life is something that we must face. For me, that painting represents every motion picture just before I commit to directing it. Just that one moment before I say, “Yes, i’m going to direct that movie.” On Schindler’s List, I mean, I probably lived
on that diving board for eleven years before I eventually took the plunge. That painting spoke to me the second I saw it. The second I saw that that painting was
available to add to my collection I said, “well that is not only going in my collection, but it’s going in my office so I can look at it every day of my life.” Do you remember a time your parents had a party and you had to go to bed? But then, you sneaked back so that you could
see what was going on. Rockwell makes us feel like we are there standing just behind the little girl who is looking down at her parent’s party. With Norman Rockwell you get a lot of over the shoulder point of views of sort of peeking in on a situation. They put the viewer in the frame which is what we do in movies. Also we do over the shoulders, where you have the main character and you see what that person is seeing. There is quite a bit of that that he does. It involves the viewer, it informs the viewer about what is the point of view of this painting, whose vision is this? In that particular piece, where the little girl is on top of the stairs
looking down at the party. That’s one of the few Rockwell’s I have which is a rough painting. The sketches, I love the sketches, they are very detailed, very intricate, very craftsman like. You have the finished painting, but
then he will do roughs in oils which is just a rough idea of the colors and how everything
is going to fit together. In that one, I love the fact,
it’s almost an abstract painting. Because it’s very, very crude. You really get the emotion of it. You really get the sense of what it is. There is no ambiguity about any of it. I like the fact that it is a sort of an impressionistic piece but very, very, very specific. When we are kids, we always want to be a little older to be able to do all the things older kids can do. ‘Can’t Wait’ was one of the last Boy Scout calendars Rockwell ever designed. He was thinking he would do a painting of Boy Scouts playing in a band, so he called a friend to see if her
son would be able to pose. But the boy wasn’t a scout, the town
didn’t even have a troop. So he borrowed a uniform and showed up in an outfit that was two or three sizes too big. Rockwell took advantage of the situation. He decided to show a Cub Scout trying on his old brother’s uniform practicing his scout salute. It’s a wonderful picture and one that brought Rockwell’s career full circle. Back to the simplicity and morality of his early pictures for the Boy Scout’s magazine. Just as many funny things happen when we
get older as when we are kids. Rockwell was in his 60s when he came up
with the idea for the new calendar. He rarely talked about how or why he selected the stories for his pictures. He did explain this one. I’ll read you what he wrote. “My picture shows two people, who after living together for many years, have reached the stage of sympathy and compatibility for which all of us strive. They know their weaknesses and their strengths. They are comfortable and secure in their relationship with each other. And while mother presumably takes fathers strong points for granted she is still trying tolerantly to keep him on the straight and narrow when signs of frailty appear.” Paintings like this are fun to do. While they are humorous, they are also human. an the subtle touch of forbearance
evident in each of them is something all of us can learn. Throughout his long career, Rockwell painted scenes that helped us laugh at ourselves. As often as not, he made us part of the pictures. We feel like we are standing in the door of this office looking at the window washer winking
at the pretty secretary. I think Rockwell was a great humorist,
and so many of his paintings are just evocative of the humor of the times, the innocent humor. It was just Rockwell extoling the virtues of this 1940s, 50s, and 60s innocence. Which is how he saw America. Rockwell wrote about the day he meet James Van Brunt. The man, who posed for this painting. It’s called, ‘The Gossips’. He wrote this about it. “I remember it was June and terribly hot I was working in my underwear and not getting along too well because
my brushes were slippery with perspiration. Suddenly the downstairs door banged and I heard someone coming up the stairs treading on each step with a loud deliberate thump. A tiny old man with a knobby nose, and immense drooping mustache, and round heavy lidded eyes stamped into the studio.” Well, Rockwell had wanted to do a painting of three old ladies gossiping. The only problem was he hadn’t been able to find any old ladies who were funny looking enough. So he asked Van Brunt to shave off his mustache and had him pose for all three figures. Rockwell said he laughed himself silly at the way Van Brunt pranced around the studio. In the long skirts and little hats. I just know that, when I looked at The Gossips for the first time it wasn’t just the Bettys in Iowa in some small town gossiping about an affair that a neighbor had. I saw that painting of these three women almost like a coven very very close together. They are very careful that whatever they gossip about doesn’t leak beyong their little sewing circle. It just reminded me of the gossips of you know, the Hollywood of the 1930s and 40s the Hedda Hoppers of the world, the Walter Winchells. Sometimes Rockwell’s pictures connected with subjects that were in the news. ‘The Jury’ is one of them. It makes us chuckle at the idea of a
determined young woman being pressued by the 11 other members of a jury panel. All of whom happen to be men. But he was also pointing to a subject that was controversial at the time. In 1959 when he painted The Jury, three states still prohibited women
from serving on state juries. The painting also has a lot in common with the plot of the Henry Fonda movie, ’12 Angry Men’. It had come out just two years earlier. In the jury room, you know, how long
had they been trying to convince the only holdout who happened
to be a woman, surrounded by 11 male jurors, how long had they been trying to
get her to change her mind? Well, you can tell by her position, her straight back and you can tell by the sloppiness of all the other jurors who have found comfortable positions around the table to try to convince her to change her vote. But then you look on the floor and you see
all of the cigarette buts. And you understand that this has been going on to the point that perhaps she is going to hang that jury. In 1960, The Saturday Evening Post published Rockwell’s autobiography. It’s full of stories about his childhood, about his models, and about the editors and art directors he worked with. He comes across as a modest friendly guy with a gentle sense of humor. He drew the triple self portrait for the cover of the issue that had the first installment of his personal story. Rockwell shows himself three different ways. In the image on the easel, he is sophisticated and urbain a man who is comfortable in the multimillion dollar worlds of
magazine publishing and advertising. Another image shows the back of a
humble artist sitting on a low stool. The third is supposedly the real Rockwell. The man whose face is reflected in the mirror. In that wonderful study of his self portrait, the triple portrait, as he is leading off to the side,
you see the mirror and you see you know, his face reflected in the mirror,
but yet you don’t see his eyes. Because the reflection in his glasses erases his eyes. I think that is a way of Rockwell transferring the point of view to the audience. There are all sorts of the debris of his personal life scattered throughout all of his work, as there is in any work of art. From film making to architecture you know, there is smoke coming
out of the waste of his basket because his art studio burned down and burned to the ground many paintings that we will never get a chance to see at the Rockwell museum in Stockbridge or anywhere else for that matter. I think that was a little, you know, sad memory for him of the art that went up in flames that year. By 1963, Rockwell had been doing magazine
covers for more than 50 years. But things weren’t going well at the Post. Television was drawing advertising away, and some of the companies that advertised in the Post thought Rockwell was too old fashioned. He painted, ‘The Connoisseur’, during this upheaval. In the image, a well dressed older man stands in front of a drip painting that
looks like a Jackson Pollock. It’s abstract, it’s the newest thing and a far cry from the realistic story pictures
Rockwell had painted his whole life. Although he never explained the picture it’s tempting to speculate that The Connoisseur
is a metaphor for Rockwell himself as he is wondering what lies ahead. It reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock somewhat of a portly man in finery and a bowler hat standing there looking at the next wave. Looking at Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda
about to make Easy Rider. Rockwell parted ways with The Post a year after he painted, ‘The Connoisseur’. He Immediately started working with Look magazine. For the next 15 years, many of his pictures dealt with contemporary issues. One of them was the space program. Others addressed troubling social problems including segregation. But many of them also reaffirmed hope. Look published, ‘A Time for Greatness’ the week of the 1964 Democratic National Convention. It was a memorial to President John F. Kennedy eight months after his assassination. Rockwell showed Kennedy as a visionary gazing out beyond the crowds and the banners. The title came from one of Kennedy’s campaign slogans. The painting is at the National Democratic Convention. It just was the promise of America, the promise that Kennedy made to America. If he were to be elected you know, he would go on to do great things. and that was, the painting that, for me represented what America could have become had Kennedy been allowed to serve eight years. Over the course of half a century, Norman Rockwell brought us face to face with ourselves He made us laugh, and he showed us who we are. He symbolized what America held the most dear, what the American ideal was at that
particular point in time for those twenty or thirty years that he was extremely popular. Not only was he popular, but at the same
time he really captured societies ambitions, and emotions. As corny as they are, that’s what they are,
that’s what America is. I’d like to invite you to come see
Rockwell’s stories for yourself here at the Smithsonian American Art Museum
in Washington, D.C. As always, the Smithsonian Institution is free. The exhibition will be on view from July 2nd, 2010 until January 2nd, 2011. I’d very much like to thank Smithsonian Folkways for the use of their music on this podcast.

Carolina Antoniadis: artista visual | Creadores

Carolina Antoniadis: artista visual | Creadores


[AMBIENTAL MUSIC] I’ve alays been defined by the horror vacui, that fear of the void. I always fill up all the walls. If I write, it’s from end to end. I’m very afraid of that void. But lately, perhaps because of age, I’m less afraid, and I can depict the void in my work. I say that I’m like a social painter, because I can paint surrounded by people, whether it’s assistants or people who come to the studio. This part is more mechanical, so it doesn’t need concentration. Sometimes a friend comes over, and we chat while I paint. I don’t like this, so I’m going to cover it up. There’s a part that is improvisation. This is a series that I’m doing called “Mental Sounds”. It has to do with that thing that the mind does when it switches situations, the simultaneous effect. I search for images of situations… that are inspirational to me, and they make up micro narratives, because there are separate scenes, and you can connect them in the whatever way you wish. What I try to do with the dishware is bring images of relationships, because there are always characters. There’s a mother with her child… or two people looking at each other… They’re like scenes frozen in time that are situational, functional. When you go into the studio, you’re entering not just a physical space but also a spiritual one, because it’s this concentration of all your energy and life. It’s where you ask yourself: what do I do, why I do it, what have I done, what am I going to do… You ask yourself all the time about things like… what is life, what is death… why this, why that… why the decorative… It’s a place where things are made, I’ve always drawn, because it was something we did with my mom, and my brother was excellent at drawing. Our living room was filled with my grandfather’s paintings, which were originals. His name was Demetrio Antoniadis. He was Greek, and when he was 12, he came to Buenos Aires and then to Rosario. I didn’t really know him, because he died when I was 4. But my mom always conveyed to me his life and career. I remember as a girl sitting on the sofa and looking at his brushstrokes. Sometimes I say that he was my first painting teacher, because I learned by looking. My mom was a very imaginative person, creative in everything. She devoted herself to taking photographs. My brother and my dad also took pictures. At home, we had a dark room. Since I was very young, I’ve had this contact with photography, And for me, that’s a great inspiration. Many of the drawings that I’m doing now… there are many images that are taken from photography magazines from the 70s. I’m also inspired by objects. I love to go to flea markets. Every Sunday, that’s my big thing. We say we’re going on a hunt, because it’s like discovering things. I like markets that aren’t all organized, where it’s all mixed up. A shoe with an art deco teapot. I love dolls that are like abandoned, destroyed… that are missing something. Beauty is something that goes right through me. I can say that I’m aestheticist, because I love anything aesthetic. I have a natural inclination towards that… how to make places beautiful, or in this case, my work… It’s like a search. Like transformation, creation is something that didn’t exist before, so you give it a spin, and it transforms into something else. When I talk about beauty, it’s like a search to take something that may not be pretty and transform it into something that goes beyond… toward another category, another dimension. I believe it’s that transformation that I find interesting from a psychological aspect… from striving to overcome something… all the way up to the challenge when you’re working on a painting and can’t resolve it. Trying to resolve that. And that search for transformation and resolution is something that goes right through me. Each time, it gets more demanding, because I believe that you have less innocence of what it is to show and display. The demand is even within oneself. The demand is in you… in the sense of overcoming, of being able to overcome yourself, and to always reach that goal, which goes further away and gets more complex each time. It’s always an ongoing challenge if you have the commitment.

Art Trip: Indianapolis | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

Art Trip: Indianapolis | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios


SARAH URIST GREEN: This
episode of the Art Assignment is supported by Prudential. We’ve spent quite a bit
of time exploring art in other people’s
cities, so we thought it was high time we gave the
same treatment to our own. But how does one attempt
tourism in one’s own town? First, I recruited Stuart
Hyatt, fellow resident and also superb sound artist, who
has done quite a bit of city exploring as part of his work. Second, we met up
at a coffee shop to ditch our primary
modes of transport, and see how much we
could accomplish in a day without a car. And third, well, coffee. We ordered Americanos
at Kaffeine Coffee and sat down to plan our route. We wanted to go full
analog and use a paper map and did a fair bit of plotting
that way until, well, it would have been silly not to
use our magical devices at all. We then walked down the
road to pick up rental bikes at the closest Indiana Pacers
Bikeshare pickup location. You need to bring
your own helmet, but the rest is fairly simple. You’ll see in the
background the first of our many encounters with
the work of past Art Assignment contributors. Nat Russell of Fake Flyer
fame was commissioned by a real estate
development company to create a temporary
public artwork to disguise slash beautify the
construction site behind it. You’ll notice a fair bit of
construction in this video because downtown Indy is
in a bit of a boom cycle when it comes to development. And a good portion of
this development boarder’s one of the city’s newer
amenities, the Cultural Trail, an eight mile biking
and walking path that connects neighborhoods
and cultural districts. And the bikeshare
is part of it too. Along it, you’ll pass a
number of public artworks, including this mural of
Indianapolis-based poet Mari Evans by artist
Michael Alkemi Jordan. One of her best known
works is her 1970 poem “I am a Black Woman.” And it feels appropriate to
recite its concluding stanza here. We kept going along
Massachusetts Avenue and passed Julian
Opie’s “Ann Dancing,” and Ann really is
always dancing. There is something supremely
comforting about Ann dancing morning, noon, and night,
through snow, rain, and presidential transitions. That Ann, she never quits. Just beyond, we encountered
another literal literary giant. This one a 38-foot tall
Kurt, Vonnegut native son of Indianapolis. Vonnegut said in
1986, what people like about me is Indianapolis. So it’s nice that he’s
here, although it hasn’t gone unnoticed that he
spent very little time here after leaving for
college in 1940. Then we rode over to
“Prairie Module’s 1 and 2,” created by the art collective
M12, which Stewart is part of. They make works heavily
informed by the context or place where they’re working,
and here, the trust formed structures
reference both the covered bridges that parts of rural
Indiana are known for, as well as the interstate
infrastructure that gives Indianapolis its
tagline, Crossroads of America. Its green roof
grasses are reminders of the surrounding prairie
and its solar panels return power to the grid. On we went to City Market,
outside of which we found an artist design
book share station that’s part of an art and
literacy project called the “Public Collection.” This really awesome,
excellently functioning one made by Brose
Partington was inspired by agricultural equipment
and the linotype machine. Stuart and I each
picked up a book. I snagged “My
Daddy was a Pistol, and I’m a Son of a
Gun,” by Lewis Grizzard, for obvious reasons. And Stuart picked up the classic
“The House of the Spirits,” by Isabel Allende. Here’s us comparing the
last lines of each book, and I’ll spare you the
suspense and tell you mine won the contest. I just hope heaven
doesn’t run out of camels and fried chicken. Having extracted all we
needed from our finds, we biked a few blocks
to monument circle and returned the books to
another lending station. This one designed by Brian
McCutcheon of Customize It fame. Columns support an 1894
quote by Mark Twain extolling public libraries as
the memorials that really last, preserving names and events,
and also outlasting them. A fitting sentiment for a city
full of traditional memorials. Then we headed south
to the Alexander Hotel, home to a remarkable gathering
of artworks commissioned specifically for the spaces. You’ll find an installation
by Paul Villinski of birds cut from vinyl records
emerging from a turntable. Here, we also admire the work
of Sonya Clark of our Measuring History’s assignment,
who created out of over 3,000 comb’s a
portrait of Indianapolis his own Madam CJ Walker,
a haircare tycoon known as one of the first
self-made millionairesses in America. There are a number of
other excellent works here but the piece de resistance
is the bar and lounge by Jorge Pardo, who
designed the colorful array of light fixtures that trail
from the lobby into the lounge, and recall a school of
fantastical sea creatures. Pardo was also responsible
for the patterned cement tiles and most of
the furnishings, but he was not responsible
for the amazing cocktails this place serves, which I was
very sad we were too early for. We then locked up our bikes
and hopped in the car with Mark because Stuart got
a tip from a friend that there was a lunchtime
concert in 10 minutes over it at Eskenazi Hospital. The new named campus of this
public hospital opened in 2013, and along with featuring
a number of artworks, it hosts a music
program that on this day brought us the outstanding
musical stylings of Indiana soul legend Lonnie Lester. This concert, offered
free of charge to whomever happened to be
at the hospital that day, was thoroughly
appreciated by those of us who stayed a while,
as well as those who let a smile slip as they
hurried on to an appointment. The unexpected pleasure
of Lonnie Lester, coupled with our walk through
the gardens and plaza outside, made the hospital’s stated
goal of lifting spirits and promoting healthful living
seem less like marketing and more like truth. As we drove away, we enjoyed Rob
Ley’s parking structure facade, inspired by
camouflage techniques and composed of
thousands of metal panels that shift in
appearance as you pass. It was then back to our
bikes and the Cultural Trail, which we followed
along Virginia Avenue to experience an artwork
by Acconci Studios led by Vito Acconci, who
will never live down his renown for masturbating
underneath the floor of an art gallery with visitors
above in 1972. Lucky for us, his work has
taken a turn for the much less controversial, and
he now leads a studio that realizes architecture
and public space projects like this one. In what used to be
one of the darkest and most terrifying
passageways in Indy, there is now Swarm
Street, which activates as you pass through and
illuminates thousands of LED lights embedded
in the pavement and in a framework above. You not only trace
your own path, but you can see the paths
of others generating either a sense of camaraderie
with their fellow passers by or a helpful signal
to pick up your pace. It was beyond time
for lunch when we made it to Fountain Square
and stopped at Wildwood Market to ogle at all of the goods
we couldn’t carry with us and enjoy their delicious
sandwich of the day. With our blood sugar back
at a functioning level, we were ready to see
more art and headed to Indianapolis Museum of
Contemporary Art, or IMOKA, as it’s called around here. They were hosting an
exhibition titled Unloaded. Here at the Murphey Building, as
well as at their other location back near the
Alexander, presenting works by a variety
of artists all in some way exploring the
form, image, and impact of guns in contemporary culture. Mel Chin’s “Cross
for the Unforgiven” drew us in immediately,
a Maltese cross made from cut and welded
AK-47 assault rifles. I also appreciated
the dissonance of medium and subject matter
in Stephanie Sy Juco’s crocheted rifle, as well as
my very visceral reaction to Andrew Ellis Johnson’s
finally detailed sculptural rendering of the maxim
see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. There’s a lot of good
work in this show, demonstrating the bottomless
diversity of responses to a most American of issues. We then headed upstairs
in the Murphy Building, where you can find an eclectic
and changing collection of artists studios, shops,
and arcade, and music venues. We were there to pay a visit to
the tiny and mysterious Museum of Psychphonics, which occupies
a small nook and contains, among other curiosities, a
spaceship prop that was once part of Parliament Funkadelic’s
Mothership Connection stage show. The museum is the brainchild
of a group of local artists and musicians aiming
to make a place that explores the interconnectedness
of music, mystery, spiritual realms, pop culture,
sci-fi, and the extraordinary. It’s exactly the kind
of specific oddity that a bland leaning,
chain restaurant loving city like
Indianapolis needs. While there, we also
ducked into People for Urban Progress, an excellent
nonprofit organization that rescues discarded materials
and redesigns them for public benefit. This has meant salvaging
old stadium seats and repurposing them at bus
stops throughout the city. And it has also meant
finding new uses for the 13 acres of fabric
that used to serve as the roof for the former
RCA dome here in town. I decided it was high time I
ditched my saddle backpack, so I purchased a
lovely new drawstring bag made from dome
fabric Super Bowl banner mesh and reclaimed seatbelts. Although I did
create a new problem of how to repurpose my old one. Is there an Art
Assignment for that? Then we made a quick
stop across the street to General Public Collective,
an artist run project space and concept shop, which was then
hosting an exhibition called Mr. Sad Apple Skin Jacket, of
amusing and impressive works by artist Lisa Berlin. We enjoyed it, but then a sign
told us it was OK to exit, so we did. Back on our bikes we trekked
on to the Garfield Park neighborhood to visit
the new headquarters for Big Car Collective,
who offered us the what, how, where assignment. It’s called the Tube
Factory, and it’s housed in, you guessed
it, an old tube factory. It’s a community center as
well as an exhibition space, and we caught the
tail end of Detroit based artist Scott Hockings
show, which was magnificent. Continuing the repurposing
theme of the day, Hocking’s exhibition
brought together materials found in a building
that was once an RCA factory, and was most recently
a recycling plant. It was filled with
materials that had been left there
unrecycled until Hocking came along and spent
weeks sorting through them and arranging selections of
them in the tube factory space. Massive hunks of
burned Styrofoam form a mountain in the far
end of the main gallery, and on the surrounding walls
are mounted enthralling multi-hued plastic blobs. Artists spent hours,
days, months, and years pursuing the kind of formal and
textural effects created here through the accident
of industrial waste. Hocking brings it together
with brilliant economy. Big Car is developing several
buildings on this block, including the sound
art space Listen Hear, which was still hosting
Pablo Helguera’s “Libreria Donceles,” when we filmed the
assignment Combinatory Play earlier in the year. By this point, we were beat,
so we biked to the nearest drop off point, and once
again took comfort in Mark’s gas powered ride. We drove north and stopped by
our favorite periodical shop Printtext, run by Benjamin
and Janneane Blevins. They’ve hosted a series of
exhibitions here organized by curatorial collective
AM called Syntax Season, featuring artists
whose practices engage in various kinds
of language games. We were there for the month show
with Jesse Malmed, whose show included daily called in
excerpts from late night talk shows, as well as a
theme song that plays out of a standing microphone. The light and our
spirits were fading, but we revived with iced
coffee as Open Society and decided to end our day at
100 Acres, the art and nature park adjacent to the main
campus of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Full disclosure, I am
the opposite of objective about this particular
space since I dedicated six years of my life
to working for this museum and had a hand in the
creation of the park. It opened in 2010, and the
whole idea of this place is to reconsider what an art
park is supposed to be and do. Called 100 Acres because it
occupies 100 acres, the park features site specific
installations, a visitor center designed by
architect Marlin Blackwell, and a series of pathways
designed to guide visitors through a landscape much less
tamed than most museum parks. The works here were
created by artists from all over the
world, each of whom had vastly different approaches
to their contributions. Very little in the way of
text is provided on site, as you’re meant to interact with
what you find and seek answers online or in brochures,
if you’re so inclined. I’ve had the
privilege of getting to know this park over
the course of many years, before there was art
here, walking through it with artists on site visits,
and as construction unfolded. And now after, as it’s become
a valued refuge in the city. So, yes, I am biased
toward it, but isn’t that always the case in the
place where you live? The longer you’re
there, the more ties you have to the
people and places and objects that inhabit it. So I couldn’t look at
this city with clear eyes, but I did have a
great day within it. I spent time with a
friend, explored life without a car in this
car dependent city, upped my backpack
game considerably, and despite having visited
all of these places before, still had surprises
along the way. After it was over, I realized
nearly everything we visited had been created within
the past 10 years, which made me equal parts grateful for
this city’s present and hopeful for its future. Thanks to Prudential for
sponsoring this episode. It’s human nature to prioritize
present needs and what matters most to us today, but when
planning for your retirement, it’s best to prioritize
tomorrow’s needs over today’s. According to a Prudential
study, one in three Americans is not saving enough for
retirement, and over 52% are not on track to be able to
maintain their current standard of living. Go to Prudential.com/savemore
and see how if you start saving more today, you can continue
to enjoy the things you love tomorrow.

How to Deal with Moiré: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey

How to Deal with Moiré: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey


In this video I have a look at how you
can deal with the problem of Moiré in your photography. Adorama TV presents
Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey I’m Gavin Hoey and you are watching AdoramaTV brought to you by Adorama, the camera store that has everything for us photographers and today I’m in the studio and I being joined by Sam. Do you want to come in? So Sam’s going to be
modeling for me today, and I’m just gonna take a picture and show you a potential
problem that you may come across.Ok lets take a shot. At first glance it looks
absolutely fine but closer inspection and you’ll see it as a problem. The problem is known as a Moiré pattern, now
in this video I’m gonna talk about what causes it, how to check for it whilst your
shooting and also how to remove it. Moiré patterns appear whenever you combine
two fine patterns, and in this case, it’s the man-made pattern on Sam’s shirt combined
with a very fine pattern of pixels on the sensor of my camera. Now when you
combine them together in just the way, you will see a rainbowing or
circular patent appear, and that’s Moiré. Now we never used to have this problem
we had something in the cameras called an anti-aliasing filter or low pass
filter and it’s one job was to remove this problem and it did it by every
so slightly blurring the picture and of course we don’t really want slightly
blurry pictures so those sorts of filters are slowly disappearing from
modern digital cameras. Now it’s not just a portrait problem, it can happen with
architectural photography and anything with a fine pattern, nature and landscape
where it’s less common. With mother nature it’s generally man-made objects that
have this effect. Now look over to the side for me, and then back at the camera. So, how do you know you’re going to have a
problem with Moiré patterns? Well sometimes it’s obvious just the clothes
that someone’s wearing is a giveaway. Other times you not going to expect it
and it’s not easy to see it on the back of the camera. To be sure it’s there, it’s always a good
idea to take a test shot and then use the zoom facility to review your images at
100% or more. That should really be a good idea as to whether there’s a
problem or not. Of course if you access to a computer actually putting your images on
the computer, well that will show you straight away.
And if you can get to the problem first. You can deal with it in camera to a
certain degree, so once you know that you’re going to have a problem with Moiré,
there’s a few things you can do to alleviate it, and I’m gonna look at three
different solutions, the first solution is pretty obvious, I could get Sam to wear
a different shirt, that would solve the problem. Anything with a bigger pattern, or even
no pattern whatsoever, and I wouldn’t have a problem anymore. Downside is, that’s not necessarily a
solution, it could be a photo shoot where this shirt is vital for the entire shoot.
It could be an architectural shoot and the Moiré is coming off of roof tiles from a house for example. That you couldn’t really change. So while that’s a solution, it’s not always
practical. The second solution is to change the camera’s settings, so I can do
a couple of different things and I’m going to start with the aperture. So I’m
currently shooting at f5.6 lets take a shot like that. Here we go Sam, great, one
more, put your thumbs in your pocket for me. So with f 5.6, there is plenty of problems
with that shot, the Moiré pattern is there, and very clear, what would happen if I
choose f8? A stop difference. Well, I can dial f8 into to my camera, just
need to adjust the flash, that means it needs to produce one more stop of light. I
can do that on the remote, three clicks. That’s one stop extra light from the
flash, that should balance up the exposure, let’s take the same shot, and f8,
there’s still a problem. I can still clearly see the patern on the shirt that
didn’t work. Ok let’s try one more, let’s try f11, so again I can dial in f11 on my camera, increase the flash power to
compensate by one more stop, and take the same shot again. So at f11, the problem looks like it’s almost
gone there’s still a hint of it here and there, but surprisingly, by changing the
aperture I’ve managed to reduce if not quite eliminate the Moiré effect, so
what else can I do? Well I can also zoom in, so I’ve gone for quite a wide shot at
the moment but if I take a much closer, more tight shot, the problem should just
go completely, just look down over there for me, bring your eyes back to me, and as you
can see, on that shot there is no problem whatsoever, by zooming in closer,
I made the pattern on the shirt just a little bit bigger, so it doesn’t
interfere with the pattern of pixels on the sensor and solved the problem instantly, but once again of course it
may not be a solution, because maybe you need a certain angle of view. of course is
always a third option and that’s to fix it in post production both Photoshop and
Lightroom have some tools to help you reduce Moiré, and we are going to have a look at those right
now. There are of course plenty of different ways of achieving the same result inside of post-processing software. But the way I’m going to do, works with both Lightroom and Photoshop Adobe Camera Raw
which is what I will be using and it’s pretty effective too, lets have a look.
So here we got Sam, and at first glance there doesn’t seem to be a problem here and
that’s because we’re looking at a high-resolution image on a low
resolution screen. To really see the problem you always have to double click
on the Zoom tool or have a look at the one-to-one view, and that’s when you’ll see for
real, the damage that the Moiré effect is
having, and there’s two problems here, There is some weird stripes and circles
that’s a telltale sign, but also a rainbow color that doesn’t exist, this is
a pure grey shirt, so two things I need to deal with, the color in theory
and I guess I can just take the saturation away and that will fix the
problem. Except it doesn’t, because I’m left with
the stripes still and of course I might not want a black and white image, so that’s
not really a solution at all. What I need is a tool, and there is one that specifically
removes Moireé, now you might think it’s going to be hidden away with the noise
reduction and the sharpening, that would make sense, but it’s not, this is a local tool,
so it’s found underneath, either the adjustment brush and if I come down here it is, Moiré reduction, or the graduated filter. Moiré reduction, there it is, or the
radial filter has it too, so those are the three tools, at the time of recording that
you’ll find this effect on. Now I’m gonna use the adjustment brush, it’s the slowest,
but more accurate way of working and everything on the adjustment brush
setting is zeroed out except Moiré reduction that I’m going to put to around
+50. Then what I’m going to do, is get a nice big brush, and we’ll just start painting
over this part of the shirt. Up at the top here, and hoping, crossing my fingers that
it’ll work, as nothing appears to happen for a while, and then magic happens and
it disappears more or less, There is always a bit you missed, isn’t that good. Now let me just tell
you a couple of things before we get too carried away. First of all this is a slow process it
will slow your computer down it will take time be patient. Secondly, it’s not an out-and-out
solution this is a software solution, it has it’s limitations and it can have some
disastrous drawbacks. I’ll look at those in just a second so keep that in mind, but
on the whole that looks pretty darn good Ok, let’s just move down to the the rest
here and I’m going to paint over the rest of his shirt and obviously the more time
I spent here would give me better results, because things like his sleeves,
and everything else that needs to be done. There are some areas where I’ve got
that sort of patterning and it doesn’t matter how many times I go over it, it won’t
go, so keep that in mind not everything is a perfect solution. Now, when I came up to the top I can see there’s a little kind of gray
area on his neck here if I accidentally painted bit harder around that area that’s
going to extend and become worse, the reason I like to do this with a brush, is it gives
me the control to paint the effect where I want it to go, Now I mentioned earlier
that I start with 50 as my control here by popping out to a 100, you’d
think that’s going to be better but it will have a more detrimental effect on
areas where you have a crossover of tones and patterns because it’ll try and
apply a Moiré reduction even where there isn’t any, and you end up with a
sort of bleed effect, coming in on to things like skin tones and hands and
other things around the object of trying to remove the problem area from. So the
art with this is to take the Moiré reduction down, and start with it fairly
low, if you can get away with it, so down here I can still see a hint of something,
it may or may not come over on the video in that area there. I probably need to
go up to sort of mid thirties before that goes, probably even sort of 40 before it is gone to
a level where I’m happy. Now I’m still left with a slight gray halo around the neck area here so I’m going to
jump from the add to the erase, I’m going erase that back using a nice neat small
brush, again I need to be patient because this won’t happen live, when I let go, I have
to wait for that to render out again faster computers may make that happen
even quicker from my little computer here. Well I just wait a few seconds, and there
we are. So there we go, there is the Moiré fix. Let’s have a little look at before and after,
side-by-side and I’ll think you can agree that whilst it’s not absolutely perfect, that
is acceptable. Good enough and I don’t think anybody would
notice a problem was there at all. Well if you enjoyed this video and you
want to see more from myself and the other amazing presented here at AdoromaTV you know what you’ve got to click on the subscribe button. I’m Gavin
Hoey thanks for watching. Do you want great-looking prints at low-cost be sure
to visit our easy to use online printing service AdoramaPix, our professionals
to treat your images with the utmost care that you can count on. For quick
turnaround on photos, cards, or albums use AdoramaPix.com

China deal could boost Dow 10,000 points: Art Laffer

China deal could boost Dow 10,000 points: Art Laffer


LATEST 15% TARIFFS ON CHINESE GOODS TOOK FEATHSUNDAY PRESIDENT TRUMP SPOKE ABOUT LATEST NEGOTIATIONS WITH CHINA YESTERDAY AT THE WHITE HOUSE.>>LET ME TELL YOU IF I WANT TO DO NOTHING WITH CHINA, MY STOCK MARKET OUR TO BEING MARKET WOULD BE 10,000 POINTS HIGHER. THAN IT IS RIGHT NOW. BUT SOMEBODY HAD TO DO THIS TO ME THIS IS MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE ECONOMY. SO WE WILL SEE WHAT HAPPENS IF THEY WANT TO MAKE A DEAL WE THEY WILL MAKE A DEAL IF THEY DON’T WANT TO MAKE A DEAL THAT’S FINE I CAN TELL YOU THEY’RE HAVING ONE OF THE WORST I GUESS WORSE ON RECORD, AND THEY WANT TO MAKE A DEAL. IF I WERE THEM WOULD I WANT TO MAKE A DEAL TOO BUT WE WILL SEE WHAT HAPPENS.>>LAVER ASSOCIATES CHAIRMAN START LAFFER A PLEASURE TO SEE YOU THANKS FOR JOINING ME.>>MY PLEASURE THANKS.>>NOT JUST WHAT NO DEAL HAS DONE TO THE MARKET, YOUR EXPECTATIONS ARE IF WE DO GET A DEAL, GOING TO BE HUGE FOR THE MARKET WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING?>>I THINK HE IS RUNNING ABOUT 10,000 ON DOW PULLED OUT OF THE HAT FRANKLY A HUGE THING FOR THAT BECAUSE, IT STARTS HAVING A DYNAMIC CONSEQUENCE WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA EUROPE EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD WILL START DOING DEALS LIKE THE TARIFF NEGOTIATIONS THAT WAS ONE OF THE MOST SPECTACULAR POLICY EVENTS EVER, IT ROCKETED U.S. ECONOMY DURING KENNEDY ERA, THIS IS SAME TYPE OF THING WITH TRUMP.>>SO YOU THINK THE DOW IS AT 26,625 YOU THINK IF WE GET DEAL WITH CHINA COULD SEE THIS MARKET GO ALL THE WAY UP TO 36,000? ANOTHER 10,000 POINTS ON THE DOW?>>REMEMBER I PULLED IT OUT OF THE HAT HE YES, I DO REALLY POSITIVE, IT WILL BE WONDERFUL FOR THE PRESIDENT FOR THE COUNTRY, FOR EVERYTHING FOR POLITICS IT WILL TAKE A LOT OF THE NASTINESS OUTS OF THE WORLD PEOPLE LOVE WORKING LIKE BEING RICH, IT REALLY MAKES LIFE A LOT MORE PLEASANT, AND I THINK THAT WILL BE PART OF THE CASE, CHINA WE NEED CHINA VERY MUCH, MARIA, THEY NEED US, VERY MUCH, I MEAN A PERFECT MATCH OF COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGE BETWEEN COUNTRIES ONLY THING GET IMPEDIMENTS OUT OF THE RAY STEALING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY TRANSFER OF TECHNOLOGY ALL OF THIS I AM SURE A COUPLE THINGS WE NEED TO DO TO MAKE IT BETTER FOR US AND THEM AS WELL I AM EXCITED I AM EXCITED WHAT THEY DID WITH HONG KONG WITHDREW LEGACY, EXTRACTION TAX WHATEVER IT WAS FOR EXTRADITION –>>EXTRADITION BILL THAT WOULD HAVE MADE ANYBODY — IN HONG KONG YOU HAVE TO FACE TRIAL IN CHINA –>>YES, THAT IS THE THAT IS NOT TRUE I THINK LAM WITHDREW IT.>>SHE DID.>>WONDERFUL. MARIA: SPARKED A BIG RALLY YESTERDAY BUT LET’S YOU THE P CHINA ASIDE FOR A SECOND ART I WANT YOUR TAKE ON REALLY WHERE WE ARE, IN THE ECONOMY, TODAY. THERE IS THE DEBATE RIGHT NOW, WHEN YOU LOOK AT JOBS IN AMERICA WE JUST HAD ADP OUT, AND THAT WAS 195,000 JOBS, ADDED TO ECONOMY LAST MONTH, WE ALSO HAVE ESTIMATES THIS MORNING, THAT SHOW THE AUGUST REPORT OUT OF LABOR TENT WILL BE RELEASED TOMORROW, SHOW THAT 158,000 JOBS ARE EXPECTED TRIBE ADD TO TH TRIBE ADD IN TH TRIBE ADD IN MH TRIBE ADD IN MONTH UNEMPLOYMENT RATE STEADY 3.7% HOW DO YOU CHARACTERIZE THINGS TODAY.>>THAT IS VERY, VERY NICE WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE U.S. IS RELATIVE TO THE RECENT PAST SLOWING DOWN A LITTLE BIT, AND I STRESS A LITTLE BIT. BUT WHAT IS REALLY AMAZING MARIA NO ONE TALKS ABOUT, IS IN 2016, 2017 WE WERE VIRTUALLY OF EUROPE MOVED WITH THEM IN GROWTH RATED GDP ALL OF A SUDDEN IN THIRD AND FOURTH QUARTER OF 2017 LINE TO ’18 HALF OF ’19 SEPARATED OURSELVES FROM EUROPE BY A ABOVE IT IF WE HAD GROWN EUROPEAN RATE OF GROWTH WE HAVE BEEN BEFORE IF WE HAD WE WOULD HAVE 750 BILLION DOLLARS CUMULATIVE LESS GDP THAN WE HAVE TAX CUTS WORKED DEREGULATION WORKED WAY TO COMPARE U.S. NOT WITH PAST BUT THE REST OF THE WORLD TURNING DOWN REMAI RAPIDLY AND WE ARE NOT THAT IS MOST THING GOOD XH I CAN SEE.>>SEEM TO HAVE IMPACTED BUSINESS MANAGERS DECISIONS IN TERMS OF CAPEX UNCERTAINTY AROUND CHINA UNKNOWN.>>THAT IS RIGHT.>>GO AHEAD.>>YEAH, THAT IS WHAT THEY SAY BUT IF YOU LOOK AT NUMBERS IF YOU LOOK AT REAL GDP GROWTH RIPE THING THE MEASURE, IT IS LOOKING VERY GOOD RELATIVE TO THE REST OF THE WORLD ALSO IF YOU LOOK AT STOCK MARKET, U.S. STOCK MARKET IS LOOKING VERY GOOD RELATIVE TO EUROZONE ANY OTHER PLACES CHINA, I MEAN WE ARE DOING VERY WELL IN THE SEA OF NATIONS THAT IS DOING VERY BADLY. AND THAT IS WHEN YOU REALLY NEED GOOD ECONOMICS WHEN EVERYONE AROUND YOU DOING BADLY KEEPS FROM YOU SUFFERING THE WAY THEY SUFFER.>>GOOD FAITH YOU GO ART WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THESE ROCK-BOTTOM RATES WHERE WE SEE IT INVERSION STILL, WITH THE THREE MONTH AND 10 YEAR, YIELD, AND HAVING, YOU’VE GOT THE DEMOCRATS THAT CONTENDERS FOR PRESIDENT’S JOB, TALKING ABOUT RECESSION. ON THE HORIZON, HOW DO YOU SEE IT.>>YEAH WELL — WHAT — WHAT THEIR SEEING THEY ARE SEEING THE REST OF THE WORLD GERMANY HAS NEGATIVE REAL YIELDS YOU HAVE TO PAY GERMAN GOVERNMENT MONEY TO LEND TO THEMTH THAT’S CRAZY, WHAT HAS HAPPENED THE FED HAS BEEN VERY TIGHT ON MONEY KEPT INTEREST RATES WAY TOO HIGH DISCOUNT RATE, AND IF TO LOWER DISCOUNT RATE AS MUCH AS 100 BASIS POINTS WOULD PUT IT JUST SLIGHTLY BELOW THE 5 YEAR TBONDED YIELD WHICH IS STILL VERY HIGH YOU WOULD HAVE I THINK VERY NICE MARKET HERE, THE REASON PEOPLE ARE GOING INTO GOLD IS BECAUSE THERE IS NO RETURN ANYWHERE ELSE THE STOCK MARKET WE HAVE IS A STRONG DOLLAR WITH STRONG DOLLAR U.S. INTEREST RATES SHOULD BE MUCH LOWER THAN THE REST OF THE WORLD NOT HIGHER. BUT WE ARE MUCH, MUCH HIGHER THAN THE REST OF THE WORLD, BECAUSE OF THE BAD ECONOMIC CONDITIONS ABROAD SO I AM VERY BULLISH ON AMERICA I DON’T SEE A RECESSION I DON’T SEE ANYTHING LIKE THAT COMING THERE ARE NO POLICIES THAT WOULD LEAD ME TO BELIEVE THAT, THAT CAN ALL CHANGE QUICKLY BUT I AM VERY BULLISH MARIA I THINK IT IS GOOD RIGHT NOW SO THAT. MARIA: WE LIKE TO HEAR THAT FOR SURE ART GREAT TO SEE YOU –>>I LOVE BEING ON WITH YOU WHEN MARKET IS UP PITCHER YOU DON’T HAVE YOU PUMPS YOU

Are You In A Simulation?

Are You In A Simulation?


Vsauce, I’m Jake and we are living in a
simulation. Or at least that’s
what the simulation hypothesis proposes. That if a civilization, a posthuman civilization,
were to become significantly technologically advanced than we would most likely be a simulated. There are two worlds, two realities. The primary world which is where the simulation
is being run and the secondary world, the simulated universe we occupy which to us,
is the only one. And when creating this world, there are three
steps to successfully making the user believe it to be real: Immersion, Absorption, and
Saturation. Think about video games like Age of Empires,
Civilization, The Sims. They’re about recreating or mimicking reality..reliving
past events or creating new ones. And in 20 years we went from games looking
like this to this. As visuals advance, as the experiences become
more immersive and digital characters start reacting seemingly on their own, our understanding
of what is real and what isn’t starts to blur. Now characters in video games are bound by
a set of rules, a set of defining laws. A sim can’t walk through a solid wall, even
though it isn’t actually solid it is just lines of code that dictate what is or is not
solid but it is called a wall. Now think of our own world. This is a collection of atoms that together
form an object that we call a wall. It’s been atomically programmed to form
a specific shape. We are left with something that looks like,
that feels like a wall. We don’t see the microscopic pieces that
build it, just like we don’t see the code in a game. We just expect it to act a certain way because
of how our world is designed. We trust that it is made of something physical,
not just a programmed artificial boundary. When someone comes to your house, how do they
get there? Do you see them leave, do you see them on
their drive? They leave their home, time passes, and there
they are. It’s World Gestalt, a structure or configuration
of details which together implies the existence of a world, and causes the audience to fill
in the missing pieces of that world based on details given. If I walk off frame left you’d imagine I’d
come back around. But if I come back from somewhere unexpected,
your perception has been minutely fractured. It’s that World Gestalt, that assumption
of how things should be that allows a simulated reality to function. Not everything needs to be rendered, needs
to exist simultaneously for every user in the simulation. Maybe the reason the universe is expanding
and growing, is that it hasn’t finished loading yet. Think of VR. If you are looking in front of you, what is
behind you isn’t necessarily rendered, it hasn’t become real. It isn’t until you turn your head that it
comes into existence and what was just in front of you, is now gone. So the question becomes, how do you know anything
exists when you’re not looking at it? It’s the technological version of Solipsism. The idea that only your own mind is certain
to exist. Everything outside of this frame, the person
animating it, the office they are in, the entire world around them, including you, might
not exist outside of my own mind. So, let’s say we are in a simulation…why
would someone or something do it to this scale in the first place? One of the reasons to run a massive simulation
like this is proposed by philosophy professor Nick Bostrom in his paper “Are You Living
in a Computer Simulation?” He states that it could be an ancestor simulation. A civilization wanting to see what those before
them had done. Like a history book but one that is being
acted out instead of being read. Or we could just be characters in an incredibly
advanced video game. In our Simuverse we would be The Sims, and
in this universe we even get to play our own very rudimentary version of simulation games
on computers and consoles, thinking we are in control. And in video games, graphics improve, they
get better with our technology. But they don’t need to be perfect. With Virtual Reality, we know what we are
looking at isn’t real but to our senses to our mind it is and we react accordingly. So in this version we live in, it seems real
to us because this is all we have known, but to those that programmed this simuverse, reality
could be much different. It is Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Plato suggests that you have prisoners chained
in a cave from birth, not able to look at each other or anywhere besides directly in
front them at a wall. All they see are shadows projected onto the
wall by a fire they’ve never seen behind them. This is all they have known so to them, the
shadows are reality and the voices they hear are from the shadows, as well. Since they have never experienced anything
else, never seen a real person, had a human interaction, they have no understanding of
the outside world, or the world at all. And if a prisoner were to escape and leave
the cave, they would be so frightened and confused by what they saw that they would
choose to come back to the comfort of their cave, of their reality. And just like the prisoners in the cave, what
we see in front of us we believe to be true, believe to be real. The difficulty in deciding if what we are
in right now is real life or simulated life is what NYU professor David Chalmers said
that, “any evidence that we get could be simulated.” And there is one important distinction to
make. We are not in a virtual world, a world that
exists independent of us actually being it. In that scenario we are players in a game
and there is a flesh and blood version of us somewhere controlling this. That is not the case with this idea. We are in a simulated world which means we
are not users, we are not players, we are simulated as well. As Phlip K. Dick said: Fake realities will
create fake humans. So why would anybody think that the universe
is simulated? Actually, we have five assumptions for you,
if they are correct, then you, dear viewer, are simulated. So follow me over to a different reality on
Kurzgesagt and, as always, thanks for watching.

John Edwin Mason – Author, Gordon Parks: American Photographer

John Edwin Mason – Author, Gordon Parks: American Photographer


(mellow tinkling music) – Hello and welcome to
the i3 Lecture Series, hosted by the Masters in
Digital Photography Program at the School of Visual Arts. We are thrilled to have
Professor John Edwin Mason as tonight’s guest speaker. John teaches African History
and the History of Photography at the University of Virginia. He has written extensively about photography in South
Africa, and the United States. He is currently at work
on a new book entitled Gordon Parks, American Photographer, which was originally the
title for tonight’s lecture, but since the events, the recent events, it’s changed into Gordon Parks: American Nightmares, American Dreams. Which actually is something
that I should say about John, I’ve known him many years at this point, well not many, many, but several years, and he is a remarkable historian. But he is also a very
astute and engaged observer of the present moment, and I think that’s gonna come
across in the talk tonight. John is also a photographer,
and his projects include One Love, Ghoema Beat: Inside
the Cape Town Carnival, and it’s a book combining his photographs with text based on four
years of historical and ethnographic research. Please help me welcome John Edwin Mason to our Lecture Series. (audience clapping) – Thanks Jamie, thank you very much, and thank you Katrine
for inviting me here, thanks to the SVA for making
this opportunity available. I love giving talks like
this because it allows me to work out some ideas, and
as I’m gonna say in a moment, some of these ideas are very fresh, and I really am very much
about working them out. I always start these talks
also by saying thank you to the Gordon Parks Foundation, without the Foundation’s
help I wouldn’t have gotten nearly as far as I’ve
gotten on this project. It’s introduced me to people, it’s made his photography
readily available. And Special Collections
at Wichita University, which has his papers, the Foundation has his
photographic material, Wichita State University has his papers, and Special Collections out there has them extraordinarily well-organized, it’s an incredible place to work, and they’ve been super helpful. I’d also like to say
thank you to Laura Shaw, (chuckles) Laura Shore. Laura was one of my professors when I was an old undergraduate at the University of
Virginia back in the 1980s. – [Woman In Audience] Cincinnati. – Sorry, University of Cincinnati, wow! University of Cincinnati. I spent my 20’s not knowing
what I was gonna do. I thought I was gonna be a musician. I thought I was gonna be a writer of cheap detective stories. But what I really was was a cook in restaurants,
and a cab driver. And I was taking a course in
Women’s History with Laura, and she called me into her office, and I can’t exactly know why. And she said, “What are you
gonna do with your life?” And I said, “I don’t know.” She said, “You’re 28, you should know.” And she was right, she was
absolutely right, you know, that was a real wake-up call. She also was very encouraging in the kind of work I
was doing, and she said “You oughta think about grad school.” And I said, “I don’t have any money.” And she said, “If you go to
grad school, they’ll pay you.” I said, “Really?” And it turns out, if you get into the right kind of graduate
program, at least at the time, and remember, those of
you who are in school now, this is ancient history
we’re talking about, they actually did pay you to go to school. So Laura, I’m very, very grateful because, you know if you hadn’t said “You’re 28, you should know,” I might not be here right now. As Jamie said, this is a new title, I was gonna talk about
something different. I was going to talk about how Gordon Parks’ photo
essays for Life Magazine rank him among the great
American photographers, and that just like Walker
Evans in American Photographs, and just like Robert
Frank and The Americans, he told an American story, and he should be in that pantheon, and I’ll say a little bit
about that because it’s true. But things have changed
since last Tuesday, I think we’ve entered
into uncharted territory, it’s hard not to talk
about this without cliches, but we’ve entered into a really, I think, probably what’s gonna be a very difficult period in our history. And it got me thinking about Gordon Parks, ’cause one of the things
that Black people do in times of trouble is we start looking back to the ancestors, and we look to the ancestors for guidance, and we look to the
ancestors for knowledge. We look to the ancestors for inspiration. We look to the ancestors
to try to figure out, how did they get through this? And that’s what I’ve been thinking about, because Parks thought
about being an American all of his life. He thought about it in his photography, he thought about it in his poetry, he thought about it in his movies, he thought about it in his
novels and his memoirs, he thought about it in his music. He had a tortured relationship
with being an American. And you know, he had a
tortured relationship, and I think most African Americans do have a difficult relationship
with being an American. It’s very difficult
for us with our history to simply embrace being an American. It’s harder than that, and I
think the reasons are obvious. So, I got to thinking about Parks, and got to thinking about the
way that he worked through this tortured relationship with America. And I got to thinking
about this photograph here. This is Ella Watson. I’ll say quite a bit about
how Parks met Ella Watson, and the circumstances around
the making of this photograph, and also what came later, I’ll say a lot about this
photograph in a few minutes. But this photograph is
probably Gordon Parks’ most recognizable photograph. It’s in every collection
of his photographs, it’s in many museums, and even
people who don’t recognize the name Gordon Parks, at
least recognize the photo. And most people see it in, I
think, fairly simple terms, because it seems to speak with one voice, it seems to be an indictment of America. You don’t know exactly what’s going on, but you can tell that this
woman is a housekeeper. You can guess that she’s not a housekeeper because this was her career goal when she was a little girl growing up. And you can guess that there’s something about her being a Black person in America that has put her in this position. When Gordon Parks’ boss
at the time, Roy Stryker, and if you’ve taken any
photo history classes, you know the name Roy Stryker. He ran the famous Farm
Security Administration documentary project, I
wanna say he was the genius behind that project of starting
it and keeping it going. Stryker took a look at this and he said, well Parks tells the
story many different times in many different places, so
in one version of the story, Stryker looks at it and he says, “It’s an indictment of America.” And in another version
of the story he says, “You’re gonna get us all fired.” But in any case, both of
those versions of the story are that this is a condemnation of American hypocrisy and American racism. And that’s partly true,
and I’m going to explain what else is going on in
the picture in just a bit, but I do wanna introduce Gordon Parks. I’m gonna be talking about a
particular aspect of his life, and I’m gonna be talking mostly
about a very early period in his career as a photographer. He had started making photographs before he went to Washington, DC to join the Farm Security Administration. But he always looked back at
the FSA period and he says, “This was my apprenticeship
as a photographer, “this is where I really learned how to do “what I needed to do.” I’m also gonna be focusing on a particular set of
photographs that he made, a particular phase of
his photographic life. I’m gonna show you a lot of pictures of his Life Magazine work,
and the Life Magazine work that focused on issues
relating to race and poverty. But he did so much else. He always said at Life Magazine that “There was no Black man’s
corner for me at Life.’ He did everything, and he
really did do everything. He did fashion, he did celebrities, you know he was an
assignment photographer. I think that his most important
work were those photo essays on race and poverty, but he did a lot else. He was very proud of
his fashion photography, and it was very good. He wasn’t somebody who
opened up new ground in fashion photography
like Richard Avedon… Saying Penn, right, Irving Penn, but he was very, very good at what he did. And he was also much
more than a photographer, he was a filmmaker, he
was a good filmmaker, a very good filmmaker. He was a decent poet,
an accomplished writer, there was so much else to him. But I do wanna focus on the stories that I think are going to be his claim to fame. His reputation as one of the
great American photographers will rest on the stories that
he did for Life Magazine. And I wanna start with an issue in 1952, this is not his photograph on the cover, it’s Yale Joel’s photograph on the cover, but he’s got three stories in this issue, this 1952 issue of Life Magazine. He’d been at Life for about
three years at the time, and the first story
might not surprise you, it’s a visualization of
Ralph Ellison’s great novel, Invisible Man, and what
Parks is doing here is really quite extraordinary. That he’s not simply trying
to reproduce the novel scene-for-scene, but he’s
trying to imaginatively, and visually, interpret the novel. If you know the novel, you know
that what he’s showing here doesn’t actually happen. At the very end of the novel,
the unnamed protagonist is thinking about
reemerging into the world, but he hasn’t quite done so, this scene never actually
happens in the novel. Then on the next spread, he’s visualized certain kinds of surrealistic, and hallucinatory scenes, including a scene that’s the
famous opening of the novel where the unnamed protagonist
has hidden himself underground just outside of Harlem, where he consoles himself with sloe gin and Louis Armstrong records. But second story, this is fashion. This is Gordon Parks, boom, same issue, and he must of been working
on these two assignments at roughly the same time. So, he’s intensely involved
with Ralph Ellison’s novel, and I should say that he and Ralph Ellison were very close friends,
and there was a show at the Art Institute of Chicago recently that focused on that
collaboration between the two. But he shot fashion, and he shot it well, it’s one of the reasons
that Life hired him. You know, there are implausible things in Gordon Parks’s life, and
one of the implausible things is to think that wow, this
is 1952 and this is America. And you have a Black man taking pictures of these very
attractive, young White women, sort of edging up towards
one of the greatest taboos in American society,
Black men, White women. And he did it, and I have to say, that he did this, like I said well, and before he joined
Life, I needed to mention that he had been freelancing for Vogue. Now if you wrote this story as a novel, and you’d say that well
there was a Black man freelancing for Vogue in the
late 1940s, you would of said, “Nah, it couldn’t
happen, it’s impossible.” But he did it. Third story, same issue, Alexander Calder. And it’s really nice because one of the things
you have to do with Calder is try to work out how you’re going to show his art in a magazine, and especially his mobiles, right? How you gonna do that in a magazine? And he worked it out, it’s
a several-page spread, but I’m just showing you
a couple of the scenes. So, there you have it. This is what Parks was up to in the 1950s, he was refusing to allow himself to be stereotyped in any way, and he did this in his art, every form of art that he created throughout his entire
life, he embraced it all, and didn’t want to be
confined to a box that said, “Well, you only get to do Black things.” And he said, “No, I can do anything.” And he could. Okay but, get back to
the argument I was making about his claim to fame as one
of the great photographers, it’s not gonna rest on his fashion, it’s going to rest on this
kind of story in 1948, Harlem Gang Leader. It’s typical of what
will become Parks’ mode, which is to enter somebody’s
life for a long period of time. He said many, many years later after Life Magazine had folded and was long out of business,
but somebody asked him “What was it like to work for Life?” And he said, “You know, we
had the luxury of time.” The luxury of time, which is something that photographers
simply don’t get anymore. Are you nodding your head, Jamie? – [Jamie] Yeah, absolutely. – The luxury of time. This is Red Jackson the gang
leader, and I have to say, gangs then are not like
gangs that we know today. These guys were not
carrying around AK-47s, and they weren’t doing drive-by shootings, they were getting into fights
with chains and knives. Which is bad enough,
but it’s not an AK-47. He found an introduction to Red Jackson, and Red said, “What the hell do you want?” And he said, “Look, I
wanna do a story on you.” And Red Jackson said, “Hell no.” And it took a while. He was working with Red
and the gang, hangin’ out, without taking pictures
for a couple of weeks before he brought out his cameras. Okay, enough about Red Jackson. Life said we need a story
on segregation in the South. Well, this also a typical Parks move, he finds a family, he
finds an extended family, he builds his story
around the extended family of this elderly couple here,
them and their children. And shows ways in which this family that should be a
model American family, they do everything right. They’re hard working, they make sure their kids
get a good education, they’re moral, they’re
disciplined, they go to church. And yet, being Black in Alabama in 1956 meant that they’re upward horizon was not high, was low. Beautifully photographed in color. Freedom’s Fearful Foe,
this is him in Brazil in the favela in Rio de Janeiro. Once again working with
a particular family, focusing his story around
a particular individual, Flavio, the boy in the family, we don’t see him in this picture. It’s at this moment that
he starts writing for Life. He’d had aspirations to
write for a long time, but the moment hadn’t come. But his editors liked the
story so much they said, “Look Gordon, you’re
keeping a diary, right?” And he says, “Yeah, I’m keeping a diary.” He says, “Let’s publish your diary.” And he sent in the copy,
and he starts writing, and from this moment on, all
of his major photo essays are going to be accompanied with his text. And that’s something that he
wanted, because you know how the magazine industry works,
or worked, at the time is that photographers sent in their film, and their captions, and
that was pretty much it. They had nothing to do with how the story was going to
be told after that moment. Now, you could fight, and if
you were Alfred Eisenstaedt, you could sometimes fight and win. If you were Margaret Bourke-White you could sometimes fight and win. If you were W. Eugene Smith, sometimes you fought and win, sometimes you lost, and you quit. He quit over editorial
control, not once, but twice. But Parks figured okay look, editorial control’s
always gonna be a problem, but if I’m writing the text, I’ve got a little bit more control, right? Yeah sure, of course
they’re gonna edit the text, but they have to edit me twice, not once. The story on the Black Muslims, and once again, he’s
contributing text to that, and contributing it in
a really remarkable way. Parks had his eyes set
on joining Life Magazine for many years before he was
actually hired to the staff. And there are two reasons for that, reason number one is that it
was the best job you could get as a photojournalist or
documentary photographer, I mean, it was the top of the heap, you couldn’t go any further,
it was the most prestigious job out there in photography, in
ways we can’t even imagine now. We can’t imagine how
colossal Life Magazine was on the media landscape, because
our media is so fractured. We’ve got a zillion TV channels, and we’ve got social media,
and we’ve got magazines that serve every kind of niche and, there is almost nothing
that Americans share in terms of their media,
except for the Super Bowl, which is why the Super Bowl
is so valued by advertisers. Advertisers pay a huge amount of money to advertise on the Super
Bowl because they know this is the time we get all Americans watching the same thing. Life Magazine was like that, it had a circulation in the millions, and that was important, you know, your circulation numbers are important. But the other thing about Life Magazine is that it got passed around,
so if you didn’t subscribe you saw it your aunt’s house, you saw it at your uncle’s house, you saw it in the barber
shop, beauty parlor, you saw it at your
doctor’s, dentist’s office, I mean, Life just got out there. For Parks it was much
more than the big salary, and the prestige, and the
unlimited expense account, all of which are true, by the way. But it was also to be able to reach these tens of millions of
White Americans weekly. To reach them, to try to reach
their hearts and their minds on stories that he thought
could change the way that America viewed poverty and race, and I have to say, the
evidence is out there, and it’s not just in the letter
columns in Life Magazine. Two weeks after a story appeared, Life would publish letters to the editor. But of course, they’re only
publishing three or four, and sometimes five if
it’s a really big story. If you take a trip to Wichita, Kansas, and you go to the Gordon Parks Archive at Wichita State University, you will find thousands of
letters to Gordon Parks, and to the editor, in his collection. You know, a story like
this on the Black Muslims, it generated at least 500
letters, this single photo essay. And they were all over the place! Some of them were condemning him for glorifying a prophet of hatred, which is the way many White
Americans saw Malcolm X. And other people were
pouring out their hearts, you touched me so much,
I didn’t know this, we’ve treated African Americans so badly, and what can we do? You know when he thought
if I get to Life Magazine, I’ll be able to make some changes, in some ways he did. He at the very least
touched hearts and minds. And by the early ’60s, he’s become sort of Life Magazine’s appointed interpretor of African American life, and you can see that just
in the headline here. Now, the headline is actually referring to excerpts from is first novel, The Learning Tree, which was later made into a movie that he directed. But at the time, the Learning
Tree was a best seller, it made a big splash
when it was published, it’s a novelized version of his childhood in a small town in Kansas. But the headline really gets it, and the sub-head always makes me laugh, “Gordon Parks, a talented
Negro, tells in fiction, “fact and photograph how
it feels to be Negro.” That’s followed in the same issue by this, The Long Search for Pride. You know, he’s accepted the
role of explainer-in-chief, and this is a role that other
African Americans accepted, most notably James Baldwin
in exactly the same period. There were a number of Black
voices out there in the 1960s who were talking to White
America about Black America. James Baldwin was doing it on a very high literary level, absolutely. Parks was a populist or a, pop-u-lar-izer, popularizer. And he was working on a different plane, but he was also reaching more people, he was also reaching far, far more people. These were challenging essays. This is one that he wrote after the assassination of Malcolm X. He and Malcolm had become
very close friends, they did not see eye-to-eye,
he did not agree with Malcolm either religiously or politically, but as men they really touched each other, they were very close. Malcolm asked Gordon Parks to be the godfather of
one of his daughters, and Parks definitely accepted, and he was very proud of his relationship. And this is him after the
assassination of Malcolm X, thinking about what has
been lost at that moment. I mean it was an immense
tragedy for this nation that he was taken away from us. Parks and Ali became close friends, and if the resolution
were a little bit better, you could see that Ali
wrote a poem for him, and it’s published here in this essay. So you know, at this point, all the words, and all the
photographs are by Parks. Stokley Carmichael here, an essay on an impoverished Harlem family, which I’m gonna get back
to later in the talk here. I think it’s notable
that we’re in the 1960s and notice what Parks is doing here. He’s using I, you, overtly using I, you. Now, those of us of a certain age know that at this point in the
history of journalism, you never used I, you
used the editorial-we, it was always we. In fact I remember, when
I was in junior high we made fun of the editorial-we, because it’s pretty pompous. But he’s using it, he’s
getting away with it. That’s because he really
is taking that role as Life Magazine’s appointed interpretor. He’s also saying “You.” He’s pointing the finger
directly at Life’s White readers, he’s saying “I, you,”
he’s pointing it at you, and these are very very challenging words, and they get even more challenging after the assassination
of Martin Luther King. None of these photographs are his. The assassination, the coverage of the assassination
of Martin Luther King, as you would expect, took
up a large proportion of this issue of the magazine,
with many, many pictures, which were very powerful. But Parks didn’t go
there as a photographer, he did not go to Atlanta as photography, he went to Atlanta as a
writer, as an essayist. And the words that he wrote, which I’m also gonna get
back to a little bit later, really scorched the
page, I mean, they burn. You’re surprised that the
magazine is not up in flames as you read them, and it is remarkable. Life was a conservative magazine, Life was mainstream and
a little to the right. But, when it came to race at this period in life, they were two or three steps
ahead of most White Americans. Black Panthers, text by Gordon Parks, and this is the last story that he did. Okay, so that’s an introduction
to him as a photographer, as I said, he was also a
writer, published many books. I just counted, he published 20 books
during his lifetime, 20. Novels, memoirs, poetry,
he was a busy man, he was an incredibly busy man. Filmmaker. He made short documentaries in the ’60s, in the early ’60s, early mid-’60s, but he made his first
movie, the movie version of his autobiographical
novel, The Learning Tree, in 1968, when he was 56 years-old,
it’s astonishing. He was the first African American to direct a Hollywood studio production, the very first African American to direct a Hollywood
studio production at 56, which is inspiring to me that you can do your first
thing at 56, and really succeed. And the film that made
him famous was Shaft, which by the way is a good
movie, you should watch it, it holds up, it really does hold up. Okay, American Dreams: Some Definitions. Been thinking about that a lot because I’m about to tell you that Parks believed in the American dream. Sometimes against his better judgment, he really, he really, he really believed. It’s hard to define sometimes, and sometimes what is the American dream? I mean, sometimes we think
oh the American dream is a nice house and a big car, and you know, a family. Sometimes American dream
are more intangible things, personal fulfillment. John Truslow Adams was the first person actually to use the phrase American dream, I mean, American dream is so
much a part of our culture that we think it has a
really, really long history. It’s not all that long. Certainly it doesn’t go back
to the Founding Fathers, but his idea of the American dream, “It’s not a dream of motor
cars and high wages merely, “but it’s a dream of a
social order in which “each man and woman
shall be able to attain “to the fullest stature…”
dah-dah, dah-dah, dah-dah, “at which they are capable.” Bill Clinton put it much more succinctly, and Bill was great, “The American dream “we are raised on is a
simple but powerful one: “work hard, play by the
rules, and you will go “as far as your God-given
ability allows you to.” That’s the American dream, hey? Yeah. Well. Of course there have always been skeptics, we know that it doesn’t always
work this way for everybody. Margaret Bourke-white, one my favorite Life
Magazine photographers, and a really amazing woman, this is during the great
flood in Louisville, the great Ohio river flood of 1937, and she made this
picture, it’s not subtle, but it gets the point across, doesn’t it? It really does. African Americans have thought
about this quite a bit, that on the one hand you have the promise of American
democracy, and on the other hand you have the reality of
White supremacy and racism. Frederick Douglass, one
of our great figures, born into slavery in Maryland, escaped slavery, educated himself, became probably the most
important abolitionist in the period before the Civil War. Edited newspapers, gave lectures, wrote his autobiography, which was a best-seller at the time, telling about slavery from
the slave’s point of view, he had a huge impact on American society. He was also one of the first
theorists of photography. It’s really true. He gave a series of speeches in the 1860s where he began to lay out a theory of what photography does, how does photography speak? How does photography tell a story? How does photography move us both in our heart, and in our mind? Remarkable lectures, I’m gonna close with a quote from one of
his lectures, but here is, one of his most famous quotes,
this is a 4th of July speech. 4th of July used to be a time for oratory, oratory in the 19th century
was a form of entertainment. You didn’t have TV, you
didn’t have a smartphone, what did you do? You went out and heard
somebody give a speech. Maybe you agreed, maybe you didn’t agree, but a good orator was
at least entertaining. He gave this 4th of July
speech in Rochester, New York, and it’s right there, “This fourth of July is yours, not mine. “You may rejoice, I must mourn.” ‘Cause we are eight years
before the Civil War, and we’re 12 years before
the destruction of slavery at the end of the war. Malcolm X, “It’s not an American dream, “it’s an American nightmare.” Fannie Lou Hamer. She should have a national
holiday, Fannie Lou Hamer should. She was one of the local leaders of the campaign for the vote
in Mississippi in the 1960s. African Americans could not vote in Mississippi in the 1960s, all sorts of legal obstacles
were put in their way to prevent African Americans from exercising their
Constitutional right. Fannie Lou Hamer, and other people, organized what they called
the Freedom Democratic Party, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. And that party stood in opposition to the all-White party
that denied them the vote. They organized their own primary. They nominated delegates to the Democratic Convention in 1964, and off they went to Atlantic City, and demanded to be seated because they were a
non-racial democratic party. Whites and Blacks participated fully in their democratic party, unlike the segregated democratic party. So, there was a credentials hearing and, Fannie Lou Hamer testified, and some of her most moving words were “I question America.” She talks about the harassment. Well as you know, it was
more than harassment, often there were killings in Mississippi, as African Americans fought for
their constitutional rights. “I question America.” Martin Luther King, one of
my favorite portraits of him, by a Life Magazine
photographer, Grey Villet. In an interesting footnote,
he was a White South African, and often did stories
about race in America, it’s really kind of interesting, he did them extraordinarily well. But you know, King talked about the American dream all the
time, and for him it was, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: “that all men are endowed by their Creator “with certain inalienable rights.” All men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty
and the pursuit of happiness. And he said yeah, okay,
those are the words, but the reality has been
very, very different. So Parks, like so many other
people, was in this line of this conflicted relationship
with the American dream. On the one hand, Parks was an amazing individual. Part of what I’m doing
in writing this book, is not just figuring out the
impact of his photo essays on American society in
the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, which I think was significant that he steered the conversation about race and poverty in important ways. But just trying to figure out the man, how does anybody in a
single lifetime do so much? I mean really, look at the
list of his accomplishments, and they are staggering. In any of his fields of endeavor, especially as a filmmaker
and as a photographer, if he’d only done that, he’d be a giant. But he did so much more. So, I was trying to figure him out, and what makes somebody like Gordon Parks? I mean, I actually don’t
know the answer to that. I think that part of it is
something that you are born with, you’re born with that motor,
you’re born with that drive, you’re born with that incredible energy, you’re born with that unwillingness
to do anything but work. He was not somebody who
kicked back on a Sunday and spend four hours
watching a football game, that was not Gordon Parks. He credited his mother, and he credited his
mother for so many things. He credited his mother for instilling in him his moral compass. He credited his mother with
giving him self-confidence. He credited his mother
with filling him with love. He was a man who wrote not one, but four memoirs at
different times in his life. He was always trying
to figure himself out, and I think it’s because
he was just staggered by how far he had come
from where he started, a very poor boy in a small Kansas town that was deeply segregated,
deeply segregated. You know, his mother is a
very accomplished woman, but the only jobs
available for Sarah Parks in Fort Scott, Kansas,
during Gordon’s lifetime were working as a housekeeper. That’s what Black women did, and it’s not just Fort Scott, Kansas, it’s all over the country. Most employed women,
African American women, were taking care of somebody’s baby, or doing somebody’s laundry,
or cooking somebody’s meal, there wasn’t much else for them. But she did fill his head
with these impossible notions that he could do anything he wanted to. And by the time he’s in Washington, DC, making that portrait of Ella
Watson that I started with, he’s been through so much,
and he’s come so far. Their family was poor. He would say, “We were rich in love,” but they were a poor family. His mother died when he
was in his mid-teens, and he goes off to St. Paul, Minnesota to live with relatives. He and his brother-in-law don’t get along, I imagine it was difficult
for his brother-in-law, who was himself, struggling financially, to have a 15 year-old move into the house. I mean, that’s gonna be hard, and so his brother-in-law eventually throws him out of the house. Parks is homeless for a while,
he has to support himself, a series of poorly-paid,
menial jobs that come and go. Things are so bad, he never
graduates from high school. And in his 20’s, it’s the Depression, so in his 20’s long
periods of joblessness. Goes to New York, spends
some time in Harlem, completely runs out of
money, almost starves, finds his way back to Minnesota. He’s lucky enough to get
a job on the railroad, and he’s working as a dining car waiter for a couple of years, and then he works as a
porter in the bar car, and he hates both jobs. The jobs are really hard,
long hours, few breaks, low pay, and they’re pretty demeaning because you have to deal with customers, with White customers, who
just treat you like dirt. I mean, he hated the jobs,
but it’s the Depression, they were steady, it was money,
he could support his family. And it’s on the trains that he first starts
thinking about photography, ’cause people leave behind Life Magazine. And he looks at Life Magazine,
he sees these pictures, some of the pictures he sees are these glamorous fashion models, and some of the pictures he sees are from the Farm Security Administration’s
documentary project. That great documentary
project of the 1930s and ’40s, that employed people like
Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Ben Shahn, Russell Lee, Arthur Rothstein, Marion Post Wolcott, I
mean, an incredible array of photographers who were photographing for this governmental unit. Initially, the idea had been that they’re gonna make
pictures that document the work of the Farm Security Administration, a branch of the Department of Agriculture. But Roy Stryker, the boss, the guy who put together
this photographic unit, he had much bigger plans, he wanted a visual record
of America at this moment. He gave instructions to the photographers that he sent out into the field,
but they weren’t limiting. And besides which, do
you think Dorothea Lange is gonna do everything that Roy Stryker, do you think Walker Evans
is gonna obey orders? You think Ben Shahn is gonna obey? No, of course they’re not, they’re gonna photograph
what they want to. They’re gonna give the department, the Farm Security
Administration, what it needs, but when they’re out there, they’re gonna photograph
what they want to. And as you know, or you should know, the work that Dorothea
Lange, and Walker Evans, and Ben Shahn, and the rest of
them did, is just incredible, I mean, it is some of the richest body of photography that we have. So Parks, like so many
other people, is inspired. He wants to do that, he sees that the Farm Security
Administration photographers are not simply documenting America, but they’re telling stories
about struggle and poverty, and they are opening the eyes
of a middle class audience to the struggles of the very poor. He really wants to do it, he
buys a camera in a pawn shop. His first roll of film, takes it to a Kodak store in
St. Paul, gets the film back, the guy behind the counter
said, “Who took these pictures?” And Parks is a little
taken aback, and he says, “Well, I took the pictures.” And the guy behind the counter says, “You know, they’re really good. “Keep it up and we’ll give you a show.” He kept it up, and they gave him a show. And it’s a little thing, it’s
a Kodak store in St. Paul, but he was off and running
with this incredible energy, and this incredible discipline, and this incredible
capacity for hard work, he teaches himself photography. His railroad runs are taking
him to Chicago, Illinois, and he’s got layovers in Chicago, so what does he start doing? He starts haunting the halls of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he’s studying Monet, and Renoir, and all these other people,
and just giving him, giving himself a crash
course in art history. He also gets hooked up with the South Side Community Art Center, an art center in the Black
South side of Chicago, where a significant group of African American modernist painters, and lithographers, and
others kinds of artists, that was where they grouped. And he falls in with them, gets encouraged to move to Chicago, the South Side Community
Art Center says look, we’ll give you studio space and a darkroom if you
take pictures for us, and it goes on from there. And Chicago… He gets commissions from what was a sizable Black
middle class, for portraits, there are Black newspapers, he’s shooting for the Black newspapers, and he’s also doing documentary work. No, he’s never studied documentary work, but he studied the pictures, and he’s trying to do
that on the South Side. The Community Art Center says
look, we’ll give you a show. They gave him a show. People from what was called
the Rosenwald Fund were there. Now, the Rosenwald Fund
was a White foundation, White-run foundation. Julius Rosenwald made his money at Sears, Sears and Roebuck, so it’s
Sears and Roebuck money. Rosenwald was really
interested in Black education, they had from the early 20th century built hundreds of schools for Black school children in the South, because of course southern states were not building schools for Black school children in the south. But they also gave fellowships
to Black artists and writers, and the Rosenwald people said
look, apply for a fellowship, and he did, and he got it. And the fellowship would
give him a salary for a year, and allow him to do whatever
he wanted to with it, and he said, “Can you
get me in at the FSA? “I wanna go there, I
wanna be there with Lange, “and Walker Evans, and Russell Lee, “and Ben Shahn and all the rest.” And the Rosenwald Fund was
a powerful organization, and they opened the door,
and off Gordon Parks goes. This is actually incredible,
and he felt it as incredible. He describes his feeling, he
arrives in Washington, DC, in January of 1942, and he
can scarcely believe it, I mean, three months earlier
he was on the railroad, working as a porter on the bar car, and now he’s about to join Roy Stryker, Dorothea Lange, and company. This incredible optimism that
he has, it was something that a lot of African Americans were feeling. So, here’s Richard Wright,
the great novelist, and he’s writing here in
a book that was called 10 Million Black Voices,
which was a kind of history, a popular history of Black America. It was aimed mostly at a white audience, but he’s capturing a
feeling of the early 1940s where there was this sense of optimism. Cautious, but optimism
nevertheless, in Black America that things might be changing,
that the walls of segregation might be coming down, or
at least lowering a bit. There’s possibility people
were feeling in the early 1940s that they hadn’t felt before. And I’m not saying everybody, there was still tremendous
poverty, especially in the South, segregation was a very, very heavy burden, but there were places where there was this sense of movement and motion, and Parks definitely felt
it, he absolutely felt it. Here it is, here’s that
quote, he’s talking about arriving in Washington,
DC in January 1942, thinking that even in my
most extravagant dreams, I never expected to be here. How could he? Yeah, so he gets to DC and
he’s feelin’ like this. Should I be honest and tell
you this is a later photograph? This is from about 1947 or so, and so it’s later in his life and he’s leaving the Harlem YMCA, off on an assignment somewhere. But I love the photo so much that I think it probably captures the mood that he was feeling when
he stepped off the train in Washington, DC to join the FSA. So, he goes to the FSA
office for the first time, and Roy Stryker looks at him, and he knows this guy is
just incredibly naive, just incredibly naive, I mean,
naive about Washington, DC. You know, Parks has experienced
segregation and racism, he’s had plenty of experience with that, but Parks himself talks
about being in Washington, the capitol of the world’s
greatest democracy. The place of the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument, this is a place of legend. Stryker looks at him and says, “Look, I want you to introduce
yourself to Washington, DC. “It’s almost lunch time, so go
to a lunch counter downtown, “get yourself something to eat. “After lunch go see a movie, relax. “And then I want you to go to
Garfinckel’s Department Store “and buy an overcoat.” Parks tells this story in his memoirs and in interviews many, many, many times. There are always slight variations, but this is how it went. He went to the lunch counter, and the guy looks at him and says, “Get the hell outta here, we
don’t serve colored people.” He goes to the movie theater, and they say “We can’t sell you a ticket, “we don’t have a balcony
for colored people.” And he goes to Garfinckel’s, and the salesmen at Garfinckel’s
won’t even wait on him. They don’t throw him out of the store, they just won’t wait on
him, they simply ignore him. He goes back to Stryker’s
office and he’s furious, he’s absolutely furious. He says, “Gimme my cameras.” And Stryker says, “What are
you gonna do with them?” He says, “I’m gonna expose
racism in the nation’s capitol.” And Stryker says, “How you gonna do that?” He says, “I’m gonna take pictures “of these guys who humiliated me.” And Stryker says, “You know what, “you know you take a picture of a bigot, “he looks like everybody else. “I mean, unless he’s wearing Klan robes, “you can’t tell he’s a bigot. “What are you gonna do,
how are you gonna do this?” Parks didn’t really have any good answers. And so, what happens next is that he sends Parks
to the files of the FSA. He says, “Look, I want
you to figure this out, “but I want you to figure this out “looking through the files. “Start with Dorothea Lange, “and when you’re finished with her, “go through the rest of ’em. “Look at the photographs.” And Parks spent several
months looking at photographs, and not making pictures
while he’s at the FSA. The earliest photograph that I can find in his FSA file is from June. From June. Well, this photograph. In most of the telling of the story, most of the times Parks told
the story it’s almost as if he took this photograph of Ella Watson right after the humiliation. That that period of study,
that period of reflection, that period of trying
to figure things out, is usually left out of the
way that he tells the story. And so what you get is him encountering Ella Watson in the office building where
the FSA had its offices, encountering her after-hours one night. Getting into a conversation with her, finding out that she was
struggling to raise grandchildren, that her husband had died,
her daughter had died, and that’s she’s raising
three grandchildren. All of which is true, by the way, I found her in the census records. In 1920 she was already
widowed, and in the 1940 census, her household is as Parks describes it. She was 57, by the way,
so she’s not young. And so, part of this is kind of that this is an angry photograph, this is a condemnation
of American hypocrisy, that this is this woman, this decent, upright, hard-working woman, who by all rights may
be somebody’s secretary, should be a typist,
should be a file clerk. Even White women had trouble
rising much further than that, but school teacher maybe, but the color of her
skin is holding her back. Well that’s definitely part
of it, and there’s also the representational power of this photograph, is that she is sort of
an icon of oppression, put she is also quite dignified, and is looking into the camera
with that really solid gaze, almost a challenging gaze, right? She’s not performing for the camera, she’s not smiling for us, she’s rock-solid looking into the camera. And Parks had to be aware of common representations of African Americans in popular culture, which I hope you are all aware of the kinds of representations
that were common, that were usual at the time. So, here we’ve got Lead Belly,
and I hope you can read that, “Bad Nigger Makes Good Minstrel.” And you know, Lead
Belly, Huddie Ledbetter, he’s one of the great blues artists that America has ever produced, but he’s being passed off
as a sort of minstrel show. These kinds of images
of African Americans, this was typical that African Americans were entertainers and servants, and their job was to
make white folks happy, or to cook White folks food. Or if you were a Pullman porter, we’re getting towards the railroad here, was to make people’s beds
and shine their shoes, and make sure you have a big grin so they know that you don’t resent them in any way, shape or form,
you’re happy to serve. And here, these are all
ads from Life, by the way, from Life Magazine, at about the time that Parks went to Washington, DC. Dining car waiter, yeah Parks
woulda been very used to that, that the idea of the
proper role of Black people in American society was
to serve White people, with a smile, and deference. So common, I don’t think
most people know it, I don’t think White people noticed. I don’t think they even noticed
the power of these images, they just seeped into their heads, and by osmosis taught them about what the role of
African Americans should be. But there’s also this
that’s worth thinking about. Parks had undoubtedly seen
this photograph, I mean, I can’t find a letter where he says, “I was at the Art Institute
and I saw American Gothic,” but American Gothic has been at the Art Institute since 1937. Parks spent a lot of time
at the Art Institute, it was usually on-view,
as it is right now, he had to of seen it. But even if he hadn’t seen
it at the Art Institute, this is already a famous painting at the time that he made
the picture of Ella Watson, so this was floating out
there in popular culture. And as you probably know, this painting has been
riffed on innumerable times, by painters, photographers,
and everybody else, and Parks is definitely riffing on it. And so, it’s not just the American flag that makes Ella Watson symbolic of America, and is insisting on her American-ness, but it’s also linking it so tightly to Grant Wood’s famous painting. In fact in later years, much later, Parks started calling the
photograph of Ella Watson, now this is many years later, but he started calling the
photograph of Ella Watson American Gothic, his American Gothic. So here’s Parks, I wanna go backwards. Here’s Parks, partly in anger, but as I’m about to show you,
it was also in reflection, that this isn’t just anger,
but this is kind of heartbreak. Because remember that Parks
had come to Washington, DC, so full of optimism, and so sure that his future was assured, and so convinced that he was
gonna live the American dream, and that Americans were
gonna help him do it. That White Americans
were gonna help him do it in exactly the same way the Rosenwald Fund was helping him pursue his dream, and Roy Stryker taking him into the Farm Security Administration
was helping pursue his dream. I mean, there were
reasons for that optimism, and then they’re smashed, (claps) by that series of humiliations
in downtown Washington, DC, and so, it is anger but
it’s also heartbreak. You know you’re heart can’t be broken, or your heart can only be
broken by something you love, or by somebody you love. People you don’t like,
things you don’t like, can’t break your heart. But he had bought into the American dream, he really believed in it,
that tension was in here, and this picture isn’t just
one side of the equation, it isn’t just anger and rage,
but it’s also that heartbreak at having been betrayed by America. He never talked about this either. He never talked about
working up to the picture, to the famous picture. So this is Ella Watson,
this is in the files. If somebody’d wanted
to find these pictures, they coulda done it, these
are in the FSA files, they’re not hidden away. But here he is trying to figure out how am I going to visually represent the kinds of ideas I want to represent about the life of Ella
Watson, Government Charwoman? So, he tries this one
out, he’s got the mirror, he liked mirrors at this time in his life. And then he tries this one out, you can see we’re getting a little closer, at least we’re in an office. And then he tries this one out. Hey, there we are, we’ve got the flag, we’ve got the office,
it’s not quite right, but we’ve got the tools of her trade, we’ve got the broom, we’ve got the mop, and we’ve got the feather duster. But she’s surrounded by
other people’s tools, right? Tools that she cannot use, tools that she’s not allowed to use because of the color of her skin. So, he’s got that workin’. And here’s an interesting thing, I was just talking about this with Jamie, notice the dress. They’re different dresses. Those are different dresses, absolutely different dresses. Now, in every telling of the story, in all of his different
memoirs, like I said, there’s slight variations here and there, but it always happens on a single night. Well, I’m not sure it
happens on a single night, also notice the lighting scheme. You guys are photographers, most of you, look at the lighting. Count the number of lights. And especially in the
iconic one, it’s very clear that he’s working with
two lights, at least two. And the one in the bathroom,
he’s working with one, so I don’t know, I don’t know. But the whole point is that he’s getting towards
something, he’s experimenting, he’s trying to get there, I mean, of course we do this, right? This is how you shoot, right? You work the scene, you work the moment, sometimes you’re working
in a day in an hour, sometimes you’re working in
a month, or two months or, how long did it take you to do (mumbles)? – [Jamie] A year.
– A year to get there. But that’s what he’s up to. And he’s not just doing it
with Ella Watson, (chuckles), he’s doing it with another
African American housekeeper, whose name I have not
been able to discover, and I really want to get her name so I can give you her name, but he does tell a story about her. We know that she is
qualified as a notary public, but she can’t work as a notary public for the federal government, because the federal government won’t hire her to do
that because she’s Black. But what he’s got her underneath is a notary public certificate. So, she’s not only posing
underneath the name of Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
but she’s posing underneath the qualification that she holds, but which cannot get her a job because of racial discrimination. And here we’ve got the same woman, and now it’s much more clear, right? We’ve got the symbols of Americanism. Neither one of these photographs
though, work as well, and so, as far as I
can tell from the file, he gives up on this woman, and goes to Ella Watson. And I think that the reason
he goes with Ella Watson is that she’s open to having him hang out, ’cause he doesn’t stop
with the famous photograph, he doesn’t stop with the famous portrait, he goes on, he does a series on her. He’s trying to learn how
to make a photo essay, he’s never done this
before, at least not under the guidance of somebody like Roy Stryker, who was not a photographer,
but he was a great editor. He’s learning how to make a photo essay, and he’s learning how to work with people, and he’s learning how to
move into people’s lives. The thing I love about
this series of photographs is that in the famous photograph, the famous portrait, Ella
Watson is simply a charwoman. She is a symbol of racial
oppression, and a charwoman. Here we’re seeing her in
a much fuller life, right? She’s the head of the
household, and she’s somebody who manages to keep the household together despite her meager salary and
the long hours that she works. He takes us out of her house, so this is, we’re looking
outside her apartment, right? So he takes us out into her community. There’s a grocery store across the street, this is the owner of the
grocery store across the street, posing with a watermelon. Okay, make of that what
you will, but nevertheless, he’s giving us a sense of her life. This is Johnny Yu, who runs
the local Chinese laundry. Once again, we’ve got the
symbols of Americanism, right? Those of you who are familiar with the history of the United
States during World War II, are aware that we interned, we sent to concentration
camps Japanese-Americans because we feared they
would be the enemy within. That internment had already
started in August 1942, it had already started. So Johnny Yu, his last name suggests that he’s Chinese, not Japanese, and the fact that it’s a, I
have to wave my fingers here, quote, Chinese laundry, close quote, suggests that he was Chinese
and not Japanese and yet, we will read him as
Asian, and our awareness that the internments had already started gives this a kind of poignancy. I don’t know if Parks intended it, but there’s a poignancy
to this photograph. And he takes her into the church! And you know the church, this is an unintentional
double exposure but, it kinda works as a double exposure. You know, the church
is so vitally important for African Americans because
the larger society says “No,” and the church says, “Yes.” The larger society says
“You’re second class, “you’re not as good as everybody else,” the church says “Yes, you are.” The larger society says, “You’re hated,” the church says that “You’re loved.” The church has been so important, and Parks, of course, understood that. That what has allowed the African American community to survive, have been family,
community, and the church. Above everything else, it’s been family, community and church. And we get it, he showed it to us, it’s a stunning composite portrait of Ella Watson, this is a scene from her church. Both in the famous, well-known photograph, and in the photo essay
about Ella Watson’s life, Parks is wrestling with this yin and yang of American racism, American democracy. He’s wrestling with his anger
for his own experiences, and for the experiences of
other African Americans, and with the sense that the
promise can be realized, he did this all of his life. I’ve been talking for a very long time, so I’m going to skip
over this and just say that in 1968 he was wrestling
with the same issues, and in a very direct
manner, with his audience. This was an essay on a
deeply-impoverished Harlem family, I’ll just show you a few of the spreads. And a little bit of the text. That last line, “I too am American. “America is me.” He’s virtually quoting Langston Hughes, the African American poet, he’s virtually quoting
one of Langston Hughes’s best and most well-known poems. He published a book in 1971 where he’s basically looking back at his time at Life and, he’s talking about what he tried to do, and he says, “I didn’t presume
to speak for Black people,” but actually he did. (chuckles) “But to give Life’s
readers a fleeting glimpse “of what it looks like
to be African American.” And in the same passage he’s talking about something that resonates with today, I mean, somebody could have
written this last night. And towards the end of
his life, he died in 2006, he was very elderly, so he
would have been just turning 80, just turning 80 when he wrote this. And it’s partly old age, and it’s partly how America has changed, but he’s identifying
himself with the struggle, “I don’t know how effective
I’ve been, I did my best.” But it’s not just a struggle
for Black people, right? And I think that anybody
that I’ve mentioned so far, Malcolm X, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Fanny Lou Hamer, they’ve all said, “It’s not just about us, “that if American democracy
isn’t real for us, “it’s not real for anybody.” And I’m gonna end with
Frederick Douglass again, I love this quote, I was
saying that Frederick Douglass was one of our first photo theorists. And in one of the speeches
that he gave about photography, he was trying to explain what it is that photographers, picture-makers, that’s what he was calling
photographers, what they do. But I think this is
actually a challenge for us, I think that this is a
challenge for us now, today. That by making the pictures we do, we’re not just reflecting
the world in which we live, but we’re envisioning a world to come. And that I think is the great
contribution of Gordon Parks, but I also think, those of you young people
out there in the audience, that’s a challenge for you today. Thank you. (audience clapping) – [Jamie] We have a few
minutes for a Q and A, I’ll pass around the mic, it
won’t make your voice louder, please use it for the video. – [Questioner] Thank you for
coming and sharing with us, more of a personal question for you. Do you remember the day when Gordon Parks actually entered your life
as a concept of study, and how did it change
you from that moment? You started off telling us
when you were in your 20’s, you weren’t sure where
you were going to be, and what you were going to do. So, after coming in contact
with the work of Gordon Parks, what was that change like for you? – There are two answers to that question, and thank you very much,
I really appreciate it. I first became aware of Gordon Parks before he started making movies. My family didn’t get Life Magazine, but when I was in junior high school, CBS News did a documentary about him, it was called the Weapons of Gordon Parks, and it was an exploration of his life, and pretty nice for a half hour, and it opened not with Gordon
Parks making photographs, but with him typing. He’s smoking a pipe and he’s
pecking away at a typewriter, he’s writing. And then he picks up the camera, and then he goes to the
piano and starts playing. And the music that he’s playing, it’s not jazz, it’s not the blues, Gordon Parks’ own personal music sounded a little bit like Rachmaninoff, a little bit like Debussy, it was very much in the
European classical tradition. And then he says at some point soon after, he says to the interviewer, “My wife always wakes me up the same way, “the way I like it, “by putting on classical
music in the morning.” I said, “Wow.” I was a Black kid that
liked classical music, there weren’t many of us, and I really felt like an odd duck, you know? And this was in the late 1960s, the height of the Black Power movement, I was in junior high at
a very vulnerable age. And so you think this was a time where you just had to be Black, and if you did anything White, there was something wrong with you, and the lines were pretty starkly drawn. You know, you could like
funk, you could like jazz, but you couldn’t like classical music, I liked classical music. It was the first time a Black person had validated my love for classical music. I saw that, that documentary, they actually
showed it in our school, so it must of been 1969,
1970 or something like that, I’ve never forgotten it. There’s a copy at the Schomburg, it used to be on 16 millimeter, but they’ve digitized
it, you can watch it. I remembered it almost scene
from scene, scene for scene, it had made that big,
strong an impact on me. And so, Parks was never
out of my consciousness, but I’ll be honest that I knew him mostly from his books and his movies. When Shaft comes out, we all loved Shaft, everybody loved Shaft. I mean, this was one of the first movies where the Black man wins, where the Black man kicks
White ass, you know? The second answer to that is the opportunity to bring an exhibition of Gordon Parks’ photography to the University of Virginia fell into my lap about four years ago. And to bring an exhibition, there are two things you have to do. You have to raise a lot of money, and you also have to do a lot of research, because you need to be able to speak, and to write intelligently about the artist that you’re bringing. So, I started doing research on Parks, and one of the things I discovered is there’s not very much writing about him, he is really understudied. When you think about other
photographers of his stature, lots of books, articles, monographs, this, that and the other are out there. Not on Parks. Now there’s some good stuff, there’s some good catalog essays, some very good catalog essays, some really excellent,
killer, catalog essays! But there isn’t a single book, there isn’t a study of his photography. Now, he did so many different
kinds of photography, I don’t wanna do it all, and I certainly don’t
wanna write a biography. I wanna write about those photo essays, as I mentioned earlier,
about race and social justice which had such a huge
impact on American society. But that book wasn’t out there, and I decided to write it. That fair? – [Questioner] Yes.
– Thanks, all right. Oh please, somebody else ask a question, I love answering questions. (chuckles) I think we have to wait for the mic. – [Questioner] This is
not a question, actually. I am absolutely wonderful,
I am absolutely glad that I came for your presentation– – Oh, thank you very much. – Because that story, that history about the Black community, it’s so much happening now. And you know, the thing what
it really get to me then, I think it was Frederick
Douglass said that about the 4th of July, that this 4th of July
is not my 4th of July, and it really reminds
me of today’s happening. Most of the people are
really protesting saying “He’s not my president.” – There’s absolutely some resonance there, there really is.
– [Questioner] So it was just wonderful, I am so glad that I came to your presentation because that really spoke to today’s… – I mean, that feeling of betrayal is because we love the country so much, and we can’t imagine
what may happen to it. – [Questioner] I’m curious about just the trajectory of his
artistic interests and, how much photography was a passion, a lifelong passion, or was
it eclipsed by filmmaking, or writing, or painting,
and all the kind of numerous ways of expressing himself that he had? – He loved photography,
there’s no question about that, and I think he knew that this was his probably most profound talent. But he also said in various
interviews that photography was his ticket out of poverty. And the thing about photography is, is that you could teach
yourself how to do it in a way that it’s hard to
teach yourself how to sculpt, it’s hard to teach yourself
how to paint in oils, right? And in photography… You know, competent
photography is not hard, great photography is
exceedingly difficult, but competent photography’s not hard. And I think he… I know that very quickly he
became a competent photographer, and started freelancing for newspapers, started doing portraits of
local people in the community, earning a few dollars here,
or a few dollars there. The thing that he most wanted to do was to end that series
of menial, low-paying, humiliating jobs that he had held, and photography was his
ticket to stop doing that. But it was also a means
of self-expression, and he had done other things, he was a good piano player, and he had played in bands,
and he had played in clubs. Couldn’t make a living
at it, but he tried, and he composed, selling music is hard, earning your living as a composer is hard, it seemed like photography was
going to be the way to do it. But by the early 1960s, he signs on as a Life staff photographer, the first African American
on Life’s photographic staff, in fact, the first African American on Life’s professional staff in 1949. In the early 1960s, he
goes on contract with Life, so that he’s not on staff anymore, he’s not doing the routine assignments, he’s only doing plum jobs, and that’s to give him freedom to write. So, he does start envisioning
himself as a novelist, as a memoirist, as a writer. And then the opportunity
comes along in the late 1960s to do the movie version
of his first novel, The Learning Tree. And from there, he makes
11 movies in his lifetime, and after The Learning Tree there are eight more to go. Remember, he’s starting at age 56, so he was a filmmaker,
that was his primary, primary identity after that. But he occasionally did a
photographic assignment, and he always photographed for himself. He was doing a lot of
abstract, color photography simply to please himself. – [Questioner] Besides the memoirs, are there stories or insights
from talking to people who knew him that you could share? – There’s a guy called
(mumbles), let me start over, there’s a guy called Charles McAfee. Charles McAfee is an extraordinarily
accomplished architect. Multiple award-winner, he’s
had big contracts to do, important buildings all over the country, one of the leading African
American architects ever. Close friends with
Gordon Parks over tennis! It turns out that Parks
was a really good athlete, and Parks took up tennis in his 30’s, became one of the best amateur tennis players
in the United States. Played in pro-am tournaments
with Arthur Ashe, with Stan Smith, Rod
Laver, I mean you know, this is high-level tennis. So I asked McAfee, I said, “Charles, “is there anything that he
did, that he didn’t do well?” And Charles says, “No,
everything he did he did well.” Some of you probably know Adger Cowans, Adger Cowans is a really wonderful photographer and artist,
and I’ve interviewed Adger. Adger went to Ohio
University in the mid ’50s when Ohio University
had one of the very few photographic programs
in the United States. He used to come to New York
to hear music, he loved jazz. On one of those occasions
he met Gordon Parks, Parks said, “What do you do?” And he’s says, “Well, I’m in college, “and I’m studying photography.” Parks said, “Look, when you
graduate come to New York, “I’ll make you my assistant.” So, Adger graduates from
college, comes to New York, calls up Gordon Parks says,
“Mr. Parks, I’m here!” Parks says, “Where are you stayin’?” He says, “I’m stayin at the Y.” Parks says, “Oh, that won’t
do, come up to Westchester,” Parks was living in White Plains. So, he goes up on the train, moves into the Parks’ house,
they have a basketball court, one of those basketball
hoops over the garage, right? Adger has just graduated from college, so he’s like 21, 22, right? He’s the same age as Gordon
Parks, Junior, 21, 22. Yeah you know, they both think they’re pretty good at
what they do, right? Parks by now is well into his 40’s. Adger said, “He kicked our ass “every time he picked up the basketball.” So yeah, everything he did, he did well. You want something about art? I don’t have any stories
about art. (laughs) – [Jamie] Well, that was a
great story to end up on, and thank you everybody
so much, John Edwin Mason. – Thank you. (audience clapping)