Jim Sienkiewicz's Blog

Jim Sienkiewicz's thoughts on his own and others' photography

Category Archives: Quips

ACASA 17th Triennial on African Art, University of Legon, Accra, Ghana

Hi everyone,

I got back from Ghana last week and my first experience in Africa was amazing.  Everyone at the conference and all of the locals were extremely friendly and my paper was received well at the symposium.  Here are some pictures from this wonderful trip!

pw_ghana 01

Photo by Paul Weinberg

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“NonBinary Review” #13

“Religion & Conflict” conference at Florida State University

I recently traveled to Tallahassee to deliver a paper for a graduate conference on “Religion & Conflict”.  Here is a link to my discussion of the event as posted on the Center for Art and Religion at the Graduate Theological Union’s blog.

CARE blog/”Religion & Conflict”

“Thoughtful Dog” magazine, Derrick Jensen

“Thoughtful Dog”-Jim Sienkiewicz, Derrick Jensen

Some of my photography was just featured in an online literary magazine. Check it out if you have the chance.

Jim

Brown Bag Lecture at the Doug Adams Gallery

I will be delivering an informal lecture on Friday, November 4, 2016 at the Doug Adams Gallery on the campus of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.  The lecture begins at noon and will be focused on aesthetic iconography and its relationship to death in contemporary artworks, and in particular the exhibition by Anne Tait that I reviewed last year.  Hope you can make it.

Jim

http://www.care-gtu.org/events

“The Papyrus in the Crocodile: 150 Years of Exploration, Excavation, Collection & Stewardship at Berkeley”

The year-long course I have been a student in at UC Berkeley is having its curated exhibition open next Thursday, May 5. Subject areas ranging from Ancient Egypt to Asia to the Americas and the Western Natural landscape are featured in our exhibition that will be on display until July 29 at the Bancroft Gallery on the UC campus.

Here is a link to some information about it on UC Berkeley’s website.

Jim

2015 CARE Writing Prize awarded to Jim Sienkiewicz

I was recently notified that an exhibition review I wrote was awarded the CARE (Center for Arts, Religion & Education) writing prize for Fall 2015. Here is the link to my discussion of artist Anne Tait and her work on view at the Doug Adams Gallery at the Graduate Theological Union.

https://carepackagegtu.wordpress.com/2015/10/28/fall-2015-writing-prize-recipient-jim-sienkiewicz/

The Historical Inaccuracy of Fredric Miller

Fredric Miller

Perhaps you have seen the commercials for “Ancestry.com”, a website designed to help people trace their family tree and unearth details about their ancestors and their accomplishments. One of the company’s most recent television spots features Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address in 1863 with the advertisement depicting the president delivering his speech in front of a large crowd. All the while the camera pans across the scene before fixing on the figure of a photographer who is documenting the event. The individual later identified as Fredric Miller is shown working underneath the dark cloth of his 8 x 10″ view camera and then repositioning to remove the lens cap in advance of taking a picture of Lincoln and the assembly. While there are in fact two known photographs of the address being delivered, there are a few problems with the accuracy of the fictitious photographer presented to us by Ancestry.

Here is a link to the spot: http://www.ispot.tv/share/7ryD

First off the available light is all wrong. In this mid-nineteenth century era of wet-plate collodion photography even midday exposures would have necessitated an average of 3 seconds for sharp pictures, with subjects needing to remain deathly still during the process. This fact would cause the non-posed people in the commercial to undoubtedly be rendered as blurred in any resulting photograph. The artificial reality of the weak backlighting from the November sunset is also something that would have increased the capture time dramatically and additionally led to no figure appearing crisp in the final picture. Look closely when Miller is under the dark cloth behind the camera. What is he doing? He certainly isn’t loading the film holder and if he is focusing the image on the ground glass then how come the lens cap is on? No matter what the circumstances, once the photographer emerges from his shadowed chamber he proceeds to free the lens of its felted encumbrance, but to what end? He hasn’t pulled the slide out of the holder and therefore there is no possibility of creating an image.

I know, I know. This might seem picayune and trivial, but if physicists like Neil Degrasse Tyson can deconstruct the scientific errors in films such as Gravity then I feel justified in doing the same in the case of Ancestry.com. Similar to Dr. Tyson who enjoyed the film he picked apart, I also liked the Ancestry commercial and its focus on a historical type of picture-making. The ad is shot wonderfully and the music is quite lovely as well.

For an idea of what one of the authentic photographs of Lincoln’s address looks like consult the picture at the end of this writing. This image was made at high noon with the fastest possible exposure time and still the figures appear extremely soft. Even the president who is visible two heads left of the gentleman with the top hat in the center of the frame is noticeably fuzzy in depiction.

unknown photographer, "Gettsyburg Address", 1863

unknown photographer, “Gettysburg Address”, 1863

Lumen Prints

These are Lumen Prints, a photographic process that generates a unique and experimental image created entirely through “solar development”. An object is placed on gelatin-silver photographic paper for an extended period of time and then placed in fixer in the darkroom. The color is unpredictable and immediately changes once the image touches the fix. (This can be witnessed in the color variation in the image of the laurel leaves versus its eventual final result.) All of these prints were exposed to the sun between 45 and 90 minutes. Enjoy!

P.S. I am hoping to feature more darkroom processes on this blog in the future with this being one of the first besides the traditional black & white prints I have previously posted.

Stream Violet

Sword Fern

Laurel

Lumen Print technique

Reminiscing about Arizona

Alicia and I will be off to Arizona in a few weeks and a recent print in the darkroom has me anxiously awaiting a return to the desert. I made this picture a few years ago but only recently printed it this past month. I used to always drive back to visit my father in AZ, but alas this coming trip will be via air. Still, while we may get there quicker, there is something to be said about the call of the open road and sights less seen.

Arizona-2010