Upcoming Site Changes!

I know it’s been pretty quiet here on the main site lately— all the action has been at Tyranny of Pants, and I’ve been otherwise nose-to-the-grindstone working on coloring the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which is still on-going.  There haven’t been many posts as of late, but it’s mostly because I’ve been keeping busy!  Between summer travels and side projects… well, you get the idea.  I’ve been trying to be more focused about making stuff, but it’s been to the detriment of communicating with you about it!  But I’m hoping to change all that, and soon.

The main purpose of this update is to let you know that some changes will be coming to the site.  It’s been a few years since the last redesign, and that time has come once more!  Sometime soon, when you navigate to either lens-capp.com, or charliecapp.com, or whatever URL you usually punch in to find me, your browser will bring you to a fancy new layout.  Theoretically, the old site that you’re currently reading, as well as all the various pages, galleries, and what-not that comprise it, will stay intact, and any bookmarks you’ve made of favorite things should still lead you there without error.  This version of the site will be “stored in the attic” in a manner of speaking, and kept living on the server mostly for posterity.  New stuff will begin to show up in the new layout, and old things will be converted to new formats, and so on… you get the picture, I think.

So, to summarize, I’m changing the website’s design, the principle URLs will stay the same, and things might be a bit confusing (for me more than you, I hope) as I make the transition.  It’ll be much easier to make slight changes and nudges to the new version of the site, so you might see things change and evolve on the fly.

If you’re interested in some of the nuts & bolts details, I’m going to be shifting the site from iWeb to WordPress.  This should be very convenient for me— iWeb hasn’t really been supported actively since 2009, and updating my website requires me to have access to a single, specific computer.  Additionally, since upgrading my operating system a couple of weeks ago, iWeb has picked up just a few little quirks that have made it a little more difficult to use… and what if my computer poops out entirely?  Shifting to WordPress should provide, among other benefits, access to a living infrastructure that will allow me to keep up with the internet’s changes, and the ability to update my website from virtually anywhere, with any web-connected computer.  The Tyranny of Pants has been operating on WordPress for quite a while, and I’ve been delighted to discover that I can write content and manage the site with little more than my phone, if needed.

Now, I gotta admit, there’s a chance I might erase all of the site in its current form during the WordPress install.  Whoops!  These things happen sometimes, right? But should that happen, rest assured that I’ve got local versions of everything I’ve written, so if you happened to be a big fan of the Dektol Working Solution article or something, I’ll rebuild it.

So, changes are coming!  It should be a bit of a project, but I’m looking forward to it.

Thirty!

Today is my thirtieth birthday, and that seems kind of important, somehow. I suppose it’s not really any different than any other birthday, but it still feels like I’m crossing a threshold of some kind. I guess by the time one is thirty, one is supposed to be indisputably an adult, and Have It All Together, but I have to admit I don’t really feel like either of those things. Is that good or bad?

On the one hand, I’ve noticed I’ve developed increasingly “grown up” attitudes and attributes over the years. As time passes, I find my interactions with teenagers more and more… “entertaining” (no offense teenagers, I’m sure my parents would say I was the same way), and for the last several years I’ve been worried about something called “receding gums”, which is apparently extremely common, but my dentist never mentioned it until it started to happen. I drive at the speed limit, and wonder why everyone is in such a hurry all the time. I’m more conscientious of joint health when working out and moving things, and I keep an eye on my cholesterol.

On the other hand, there are many things that I have not outgrown. I have an appreciation for comic books, an enthusiasm for bugs, and a Warcraft character. I usually only tuck in my shirt for fancy occasions, and I don’t shave as often as I probably should.

Still, I feel like it’s a good balance. I’m fortunate to not only feel young at heart, but also young in body. I’m still ambitious and willing to dream big ideas. I was hoping this summer to be floating from here to the Pacific Ocean, and although that doesn’t seem as likely now, I’m sure it’s still in my future. I think we tend to think of our thirties too often as a decade of diminishment– we glorify youth so much that further we move away from being 22, the more we worry about whether or not we’ll be able to achieve what we hoped to accomplish when we were teenagers. Our thirties are when we start to “settle,” and realize that we probably won’t be professional athletes, rock stars, or famous actors. Several years ago, while watching a Superbowl, I realized I was (even then) “too old” to be in a Superbowl, which seemed just a little sad.

Now, I never played much football, ever. The last time I played football of any sort was probably back in high school P.E., and even then I’m not even sure if I even touched the ball. The majority of games that I have attended and watched have been with a saxophone in my hands (I should clarify I was in pep band… I’m not that eccentric), and I am really, really (still) confused by the minutia of the rules. Nevertheless, I felt the pang of a door closing when I realized that I was three years older than most of the players. It’s silly– I had no intention, ever, of being a professional football player, but the feeling that I no longer could seemed somehow poignant.

As the years have passed, I’ve become familiar with a similar sensation: feeling like people younger than me are more “on track” than I am. Unless I start to lie about my age, I will never be featured in a “thirty to watch under thirty” list. My dentist is now younger than I am. Peers from high school and college have houses, kids, and/or pets. I even find myself comparing myself to my parents, who, at my age, were working at established careers, living in the house they’re still living in, and raising two kids while expecting a third.

When I think about it, though, I don’t really want that… yet. I don’t want to be a dentist with two kids, a golden retriever, and a riding lawnmower (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I like that I spend more time planning expeditions and making art than I do thinking about new bathroom faucets and spraying dandelions. I appreciate that I’m still young enough to be ambitious, and to still have room in my life to be many things, even if I am ten years too old and 200 pounds too light to be a football player.

There’s still a whole world out there for me to explore, and, frankly, still plenty of time for me to change my mind and decide to go to grad school to be a dentist, doctor, or lawyer. And, comparing myself to my parents again, even my dad has reinvented himself in the last then years, when he went to law school to become an attorney. Heck, there’s still always the possibility that I’ll be on the field at a future Superbowl, except as a photographer, team staff member, millionaire team owner, mascot in a funny costume, or crazed fan. I’m not running out of time, I’m hitting my stride, and becoming myself.

I’m looking forward to my thirties, and if I can make the entire decade as interesting as the past year, then I’ll have quite a list of accomplishments by the time I find myself contemplating my fortieth birthday.

Looking Ahead to the Summer

I’ve been a busy video editor these past couple of days, working on trimming various accumulated footage into a pitch video for our upcoming Kickstarter campaign, titled “Summit to Sea”, which will launch this Sunday. As I’ve mentioned, Lorie and I are planning on kayaking from my childhood home in Stevensville, MT, all the way to the Pacific Ocean this summer, so I’ve been trying to make a nice, motivational video to get off on the right foot for our fundraising campaign.

In terms of what we’ll be making during this endeavor, our plan is to follow the rivers to the sea, and make artwork along the way. For me, this will take the form of drawings and photography, as well as some writing. We’ll distill our efforts into a sort of travel-journal art book following the completion of our journey, which should be a thorough and engaging portrait of that particular route to the sea.

For years this project has only existed in my mind as one of those “you know, I’d really like to someday” kind of things, and at some point several years ago I told Lorie about it. It’s one of those projects that’s very tempting to put off, or do “later”, but Lorie has really encouraged me to make it a reality, especially now, when our schedules are still open from our residency travels. Now that we’re entering the “action phase” of the project, I’m getting pretty excited about it.

There’s a long way to go yet, of course. We’ve still got a lot of dollars to raise before we’ll be able to launch our boats to head for the ocean, but it’s definitely on its way to taking on a more tangible form than it did all those years ago when I was in high school, looking at the mountain snows from my window, wondering what sort of other places it passes through on its way to the sea.

Codename Porkchop

January is usually the time of year when we find the web and various other media inundated with a variety of either “Best of 2011” lists, or resolutions for 2012. I don’t think I’ll really worry about crafting this first post of 2012 to match either of those themes, but I won’t go so far as to say that I won’t touch on them a little bit.

Things have been pretty quiet around here on the website for the last couple of weeks, which I’m afraid corresponds to a lack of creative output on my part. I wrote about it a couple weeks ago, so I won’t re-hash too much, but it’s felt a lot like the combination of returning home from the Netherlands and diving straight into the Christmas Season created something of a double-whammy of distraction. It’s been surprisingly difficult to keep myself in the creative mindset that I was able to occupy while in Renkum, so I need to get more aggressive about walling myself off a bit and taking time to draw, take photographs, and create cryptic-looking alphabets like a crazy person.

Which, I suppose, allows me to veer dangerously toward the subject matter of some “resolutions” for 2012. I notice I haven’t really shown you anything new since November, which I’m going to remedy, especially since I have a photo project from the Netherlands that is basically finished. Along the vein of “Better Done Than Perfect”, there are several efforts that I need to close up, launch, or otherwise finish, several of which I think you’ll see in the coming weeks. In fact, to make myself accountable, I’ll go ahead and announce one of those things now: I’m going to add a comic feature to this site, which I hope to be able to update weekly.

By “comic”, I mean just that: an illustrated cartoon with dialogue balloons and everything. I’ve been working on it inconsistently for a little while now, and while I don’t have a whole heap of material built-up and waiting to be uploaded, I do have enough to get started, so watch for that in the future. What will it be about? At the moment, it’s just a little bio-comic about funny or interesting things that happen to me. In fact, you might be able to think of it as essentially being an illustrated extension of this journal, but with less words, and me being a little more indulgent of my goof-ball side. Watch for it coming up soon.

As for other things in the “soon” category, Lorie and I will be launching a Kickstarter campaign later this month to fund a bona fide expedition. For years now, since I was a kid, really, I’ve always wanted to follow the river from my family’s ranch in the Bitterroot Valley, all the way to the Pacific Ocean. I’ve always lived where the water “starts” in the snows of the mountains, and want to follow the journey from snowbank to ocean, and find out who I meet and what I see along the way. It won’t be an easy trip, of course. There’s a few rapids on the rivers between the bank I learned to fish on and the waves of the Pacific, and several dams. We’ll probably be wet much of the time, and (don’t tell Lorie) there will probably be a lot of mosquitos. It will be, in short, an effort to see if the West is still wild, and if there’s still room in the world for someone to ride a river from the mountains to the ocean.

Details, of course, will follow. For now, though, let me close by explaining why this journal entry is enigmatically titled “Codename Porkchop”. It’s nothing fancy, really– it’s the placeholder title that I put up there until I could think of something better, but Lorie liked it, so I’m keeping it there. My philosophy is that we need more enigmatic project titles these days, because things are more interesting when they have a good name to go with them. So, if you find yourself falling asleep because your boss wants you to work on the projected Q4 sales figures for the regional FST evaluation next week, don’t make a folder on your computer with a limp-fish name like “Estimated Q4 figs for FST”, give it a good all-caps name like “Project RED SHARK”, “Operation MORNING ZEPHYR” , or “CRIMEAN GAMBIT”. Sure, clear and concise titles might be more efficient, but I learned you sometimes have to make life a little more interesting if you work under florescent lights and don’t have a window.

December Slump

I feel like I’ve been incredibly unproductive this month, and I can’t nail down the cause of it. My immediate suspect is all of the travel. Our last several days in Renkum were spent getting ready to hit the road again, and our time in London was too short to really take on a project. Even back in Montana, we’ve been getting a pretty good mileage this past week: we’ve made a couple trips to Billings, a trip to Bozeman, and have a trip to Butte planned for the weekend, so I’m feeling like I’m doing as much travel as ever, despite being “back”.

Being on the go might not be the only problem, however. If it was that easy, I could just carve out a few days where I simply didn’t plan to go anywhere. Today was such a day, and I got quite a bit accomplished. The only problem? None of it, so far, has been art-making. Everything I’ve worked on since I’ve gotten back has been either a maintenance chore (i.e., balancing bank statements), or working on seasonal projects, like Christmas shopping, or going through the address book for a Christmas card mailing. These are things that need to get done, of course, and I suppose they’re an inevitability of being away for two months. Sure, I could’ve gotten to work on a Christmas card back in November, or even October, but I was trying to focus on the projects at hand… and goodness knows I’ve got plenty of projects at any given time.

Most likely, it’s a combination of both of those factors: being unsettled and catching up can mess up one’s artistic output, and I suppose it’s the thousand one-minute distractions like these that residency programs are intended to shield their participants from, just as one can enjoy a weekend away from home a little more because you don’t have to feel obliged to mow the lawn– or guilty for neglecting to do so. When I think if it that way, they’re problems I’m very fortunate to have, I suppose. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to explore another corner of the world for a couple of months, and of course there’s going to be some adjustment time to get things back in order in the “real” life at home.

Still, I feel… pent up. It’s not quite what I’d describe as a restlessness for travel, although it’s the sort of feeling that would probably prompt me to go on a long hike in summer weather. I don’t think it’s a need to go somewhere, though, as much as make something. I think what I’m feeling is the creative impulse unfulfilled, a sort of artistic zugunruhe. I’m getting fidgety. Of course, the obvious solution is “well Charlie, why don’t you go off and make something?”…. and I would, except I don’t really know quite what to make. I think what I just need to do is set myself up in front of a blank piece of paper for an undistracted hour and see what I make. I’ve just got to finish my share of the Christmas card writing first.

Return to Montana

Yesterday, Lorie and I started our day stepping out of the hostel onto the dark, quiet streets of Amsterdam where a light rain was falling as we made our way to the train station. Exactly 24 hours later, we returned to Montana, where a light snow was falling as we drove from the airport. It was a pretty long day of travel for us, but also indicative of how far one can travel in just 24 hours in these modern times. Yesterday was quite literally a day of planes, trains, and automobiles– the day before that involved a bus and a ferry too.

Consequently, I’m a bit jet-lagged today. Or perhaps I’m just tired from a succession of several travel-intense and sleepless days– or getting sick. Or some combination of all of those. Right now, it’s just after 9 pm, and I feel like I’m trying to stay awake as though it were two in the morning. I guess that makes it about 5 in the morning in the Netherlands, so perhaps that’s why I feel like I’m so tired. Well, I’ll try to stay up a bit longer to try to acclimate back to Mountain time.

Several Days Later…

Well, I managed to stay up until about 9:30 pm, but I didn’t actually get around to finishing this update. So, I’m just going to close this up, and try to make a proper update later this afternoon.

Checking In From Amsterdam

Well, I did a terrible job at updating the website from London, but I will try to give you a bit of a travel update from here in Amsterdam, while the laptop has power and internet, since those things will be a little harder to come by tomorrow as Lorie and I fly back to Montana.

First off, we had a great time in London. I’d really like to tell a long, rambling account of all the things we did, and perhaps I will eventually, but now might not be the best time for it, since I’m suffering not only from “bus lag” (that is, not sleeping well during the night transit), but from “intermittent keyboard”, a problem I’ve been having with my computer that interrupts my typing egregiously. The keyboard thing I’ll have to remedy when I get back home, but the sleeping thing I’ll probably address shortly with a bit of a nap.

So, London was fantastic. The UK had a distressingly comprehensive border control procedure that was actually rather unexpected: they require the precise address where you will be staying while in the UK, which Lorie and I did not have. We didn’t have that because we haven’t needed it for any other country we’ve been to these past several years, but the government gets to make its own rules, I suppose. I just wish that they had emphasized that fact a little better before we got underway. So, if you or someone you know is heading to the United Kingdom, make sure you have the address of the hotel or location at which you will be staying. If you don’t intend to stay anywhere, because you expect to camp the whole way (i.e., you’re on a bike trip), then I don’t know what you’ll do, other than camp in the Passport Control office. It was a very stressful experience, but also very educational. I’ve never been through US Passport Control as a non-citizen, so I imagine it’s pretty harsh too, given the level of distrust and scrutiny I encountered back in 2006.

So, despite a bumpy border, everything else in London seemed to go great. I understand many of the flagship museums were converted to free admission several years ago, and Lorie and I made a great deal of use of that. Thank you, United Kingdom, for having such accessible museums! We were shameless tourists during our visit, and tried to hit the major “postcard” sites of the city, like Parliament, Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London. Even with several days, we didn’t feel like we saw everything, let alone go into everything, so there’s definitely things to do and see in the future when we return. I don’t know when we’ll return, of course, but Lorie and I both liked it enough that we’d like to do so in the future!

Okay, I think I’ll endeavor to take a bit of a nap now before Lorie and I set out onto the town to wander around a bit for our last evening in Europe for a while. It’s been a good trip, but we’re both really looking forward to returning home for the holidays, and seeing our families again in person, instead of through Skype!

Cross Posted from the 101 in 1001 Days Project: 100 Day Check-in

In just a matter of hours, Lorie and I will be leaving the house here in Renkum, bound for Amsterdam, and then London. One week from today, by this time, we’ll be somewhere over the Atlantic, home bound for the United States, and then Montana. I’ll try to post from London, before then, if I can.
In the meantime, here’s a check-in from the 101 Things in 1001 Days project I’ve been working on these past couple of years:

900 Day Check-in: 100-ish Days to Go

As I’m rounding the corner of these last 100 days of this project, it’s becoming apparent that some of these goals will not, in all probability, be accomplished. I know, I know, not the most positive way to start out a 100-day check-in, but I’m not feeling too fussed about it. Surprisingly, I’ve gotten some very big things accomplished. Case in point: I’m writing this check-in from overseas, in a house in the Netherlands. I’ve been here for over two months, and tomorrow Lorie and I will be heading to London for a few days before we return to Montana.

When I initially made the “travel internationally once again” goal some years ago, it was actually with the assumption that I would be going with my family on a cruise in Canada, fulfilling the objective. I didn’t get to Canada, as it turned out, but here I am in Europe nonetheless. It also occurred to me a few days ago that I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to Europe three times in my life so far, but Canada only once, despite living my entire life in a state that shares one of its borders with the country. It seems pretty weird now that I think about it, so maybe I’ll have to make more impulsive trips into Canada in the future

So, by my current reckoning, I’ve completed 52 of 101 tasks, with 49 remaining. I’ve crossed the half-way point now, and already have substantially more goals completed than my first effort from 2006-2009, so that’s certainly something to be pleased about. Reviewing my current list, I see several that I’m making progress on, and several that I should be able to complete in the next 100 days if I set my mind to it. I also see several that aren’t really well defined, and could probably be “closed” at any time. “Take as many portraits of my relatives as I can” is one such goal– I’ve been working at it, but the amorphous “as many as I can” means that I should perhaps keep at it until the closing bell this coming March.

The window for a few of these has passed, too. I don’t expect to have the weather conditions or resources to hike the 900 miles of the Montana portion of the continental divide this winter, nor attend and document a Threshing Bee in Huntley, MT, an event which happens annually in August.

I’m not getting too discouraged, though. I knew I was being a little optimistic when I made many of these goals back in 2009, and some of them are really more reflections of how I was envisioning the person I wanted to be in three years, and I think I’ve made pretty good progress. I think everyone who makes one of these lists eventually hits a “revision” phase. Something truly ambitious, like “read 101 new books” might have to get dialed back to a more attainable “read thirty new books” depending on one’s rate of reading. Conversely, “too easy” goals might get upgraded– maybe you’ve decided you’d rather watch 100 classic movies, instead of just twenty or so. I’m not an exception to this myself, although this list is surprisingly intact from the day I first posted it.

There’s things I’d change, of course, but I think I’ll leave them in place on the list, even if I don’t get around to them. Will they get bumped to the next list? Maybe. Others I feel like might not be very relevant to me anymore, like getting an OS X Server certification, which was more of a professional goal than a personal one, so they probably won’t be carried over to List Version 3. So, time to go get started on finishing off those last 49 goals!

Koffie in Arnhem

With so few days remaining to us during our stay in Gelderland, Lorie and I are beginning our preparations for departure, and that means that we’re making what will likely be our final visits to many areas that have become familiar during the course of these past two months. Today we made the bike ride to Arnhem one more time, this time with little real purpose except to go see the city again before we hit the road next week.

It seems strange now to think that we’ll be leaving so soon, and odd to be shifting our mental gears to use up and finalize things around here. Our meal planning is taking into account our last week now, so we’re finding ourselves being very conscientious of how much bread, milk, or microwave popcorn we might need for the next few days, rather than just purchasing it knowing that we have plenty of time to make use of it.

Two months, of course, is hardly any time at all in the greater scheme of things, but it felt like plenty of time at the beginning of the residency. Every time we visited somewhere, it seemed entirely possible that we’d be able to visit again, if we chose to do so. Now we can number our remaining days here on one hand, and it seems a little sad that we won’t be able to get back to the Hoge Veluwe in the foreseeable future, or take a bus into Arnhem one evening to have a drink at the eccentric little café on the riverbank we discovered this morning. Of course, there is still some possibility of returning to those things, and we could make the time to do so if we’d like, but it seems likely that we’ll be increasingly focused on preparing for our departure in the next few days, cleaning the house, making trips to the post office to send letters and packages, and generally making the most of our remaining days in Renkum, so we may not be traveling very far afield until we get back onto the train next Wednesday.

When we were in Arnhem this afternoon, we warmed ourselves up a bit with a cup of coffee in a Koningstraat café, and I watched the folks outside mill about the little square area. I found myself wondering how long I would have to stay in the Netherlands in order to feel like I “knew” the area, and could think of it as home. Things are more familiar to me now, but still at times I find unexpected gaps in my knowledge. We’ve done most of our own cooking, for example, and haven’t been in a restaurant since Amsterdam, so I found myself at an impasse when it came to making our order. Had I really been in the country for two months, but I couldn’t find the words to order a cup of coffee in Dutch? Fortunately, it wasn’t a crisis– that waitress, of course, spoke English, or at least enough for our purposes, and we were able to make our order just fine, but it left me wondering. I could think of how to say the phrase in German, French, Spanish… even Japanese and Hungarian, but I couldn’t remember what it should be in the language of the country I’ve been living in for two months.

Have I been too focused on my work these past couple of months to really absorb the culture around me? Or have I been doing what I’m supposed to be doing, rather than getting distracted by the environment around me? It’s a little of both, I suppose. I was here for an art-making residency, afterall, not an immersive language course. This very situation of integrated isolation is exactly what has lead to some of my more recent work, in fact, so I suppose I can’t begrudge that. Still, I think I’ll pursue making my Dutch-speaking a little more aggressive with these remaining days than simply saying “yes”, “no”, “hello” and “thank you” at the store at the proper times.

Oh, and I looked it up when we got home: if you wish to say, “I’d like a coffee”, the way to say that is “ik wil graag koffie.” That may or may not be the grammatically proper, but it will probably get the job done.

What’s My “Urban Style”?

Since we arrived in Amsterdam almost two months ago, I’ve been asking myself a persistent question about my art-making: what’s my urban style? That is, when placed in the environment of the city, what sort of photographs do I make?

It was a question that I felt tugging at myself most strongly in Amsterdam, but it has been on my mind here in Renkum as well. In Montana, my usual method of image making was to go for a walk, and “see what I see.” Sometimes I’d have a specific goal in mind, like heading to a rock slide to photograph pika, but other times I’d just be open to possibilities as they came my way.

In cities, though, I’ve noticed that I have a more difficult time working, or at least working in this same way. Of course, I still see plenty of things, and plenty of things that capture my attention, but I always have this feeling dogging me that I’m photographing someone else’s work. I don’t mean that in the sense of “has someone else already made this picture?”, or “is this more of an Atget image than a Charlie image?”, although those can sometimes be considerations too. No, by “photographing someone else’s work”, I mean that I am surrounded by the artistic labors of hundreds of other people. Every building is the work of an architect, every relief or brick pattern was made deliberately by human hands, and the colors of graffiti were splashed on the wall by another person. I have a persistent feeling that I am not making my own work, but simply documenting someone else’s labors, as though I were simply making a snapshot of a painting hanging in a museum.

Usually what I find myself drawn to in cities are “accidental” compositions, or images that arise in an organic fashion, in a sort of naturalistic way. Of course, this still involves elements that have been crafted by someone else, becoming, I suppose, a little like magnetic poetry, where a set of supplied words made by someone else can be arranged into a unique, personal combination. In photographic terms, the collision of natural elements like light, shadow, reflection, and weather become important tools in making an image “my own”. Perspective also plays a role… a composition feels much more personal to me when it involves several buildings, rather than just one building that could be credited to a single architect.

I’ve noticed I have quite a few “rules” (although they’re really a little more amorphous and soft-edged than that) for what feels like a personal composition, versus photographing someone else’s work. A sculpture by itself doesn’t “count”, but a sculpture transformed does…. imagine it veiled by fog, covered in snow, or has a pigeon sitting on it. Or perhaps there is the added element of context or perspective, where it becomes the sculpture as seen through the trees of the park, or reflected in a café window. Then, of course, there might be the emergent chaotic elements that were not (presumably) part of the sculptor’s original vision– perhaps there is an abandoned shoe hanging from it, or a pattern of moss erupting from a crack.

I’m not sure whether it’s a good thing or not to keep thinking about. On the one hand, it makes me a more deliberate artist, but on the other hand, it can be a little paralyzing. I suppose it’s a little like the photographic equivalent of “remix culture” that can be seen in so many places. Not that the idea of the remix new– people have been appropriating things and folding them into their own art for centuries. Art historians would be familiar with the “orientalization” of art in what we would think of today as Ancient Greece, where influences from the near and far east showed up in decorative styles and art objects in Mediterranean societies. Continuing with the Ancient Greek theme, what we think of a “Greek Myths,” such as the Hercules legends, predate a unified Greek culture by thousands of years. The Romans then riffed on these motifs, and so on…. until one walks around Washington, DC, a “new” city, and sees what seem to be modern versions of Greek/Roman buildings. And perhaps even the superhero comic book, and many movies, could be interpreted to be fundamental re-tellings of a “Hercules” story.

So, what does all of this have to do with my photography while in a densely urban area? Not really a whole lot, really, except that in addition to striving to be original, I also have to be okay with being un-original. If I let myself get too concerned with doing something that no one has ever done before, then I think the ultimate result is that I won’t make anything.

Have I been able to determine what exactly my “urban style” is while here in the Netherlands? No, not precisely. The important thing, however, is that I keep making work regardless. I’m the one who is probably over-thinking all of this, ultimately, not the viewers of my work. It’s probably for the best anyway– if I knew precisely what my style was, then I’d start to feel like I was just being formulaic, and then I’d have a full set of new concerns about my work.