Time And Sound – (Two Photography Gurus)

Robert Frank (1924-2019) – (“Robert Frank with old 195 Polaroid gives a negative, taking portrait for dust jacket for Collected Poems 1947-1980, “I guess its a continuation of what we did years before so it’s O.K.” he said. His studio’s an old brick house on Bleecker Street near Bowery in N.Y. Peter Orlovsky took my Olympus XA and roamed the back rooms, this is what he saw, January 1984″) – (photo and caption: Allen Ginsberg, courtesy Allen Ginsberg Estate/ Stanford University Libraries)

Berenice Abbott (1898-1991) -(“Berenice Abbott at 57th Street art Gallery reception photo show Louis Hine and her photographs, 1985: “Don’t get so close or you’ll get a bulging eye or cheek too big, go back a bit so you include the space around a person,” she told me as I backed up, focused and listened.”) – (Photo and caption: Allen Ginsberg, courtesy Allen Ginsberg Estate/ Stanford University Libraries

Allen Ginsberg’s Naropa lecture on Time and Sound (and Eternity) continues from here

AG: Well let’s go slower. One word slogans aren’t enough. The same (Louis) Zukofsky (sic) also says “Nothing is better for being Eternal..” – ((That’s) very Jewish-sounding, (like “not better”, like, not better pastrami, you know)) – “Nothing is better for being Eternal/Nor so white as the white that dies of the day” – “Nothing is better for being Eternal/Nor so white as the white that dies of the day” – There’s also the famous Zen two-line poem… “The wise…”It’s  a wise man who can see, you know, a lightning flash in the clear sky without saying “how beautiful!””, (you know, without commenting on it, without having to put a quotation mark on it, around it).

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Frank – photo- Peter Hale

I’ve been taking photographs lately and I’ve been.. I have two photography gurus, who both gave me some rebuke on the subject. Robert Frank, who’s a very great photographer, finally abandoned it, basically, or gave up his Leica, (He) said he got tired of living with his eye behind the camera, he wanted to live in the life, he didn’t want to be looking at the life through a camera all the time –  that it was distorting his existence, he was no longer participating and he was always observing it, and observing it and framing it. And so it led him to take a view of photography and art that would include a lot of chance, so that he wasn’t doing that, but, like just shooting from the hip, some time, or (he) would aim it and then look away and press the trigger.. the ..what do you call it?

Student: Shutter

AG: Shutter-release – or, (would) allow an element of chance into it, into his practice. And he got very famous for that, for not being worried , for not being worried in getting everything exact, and getting.. get everything clear.. and not being worried..  about having a giant negative.. he got…  He changed American photography by allowing casualness and chance to be part of the art rather than framing everything and setting it up and making it look artistic. So he had to retreat from deliberateness in order to be a part of existence, that is he had to retreat from the deliberateness of art in order to be a part of the existence he was living.

And then I went to a wedding where there was this lady, Berenice Abbot, who’s eighty- seven years old and was also one of the great innovators in American photography and European photography. Anybody know her work? Berenice Abbot? – (that’s worth looking up, worth looking up. There’s maybe a dozen great photographers in the century and she’s one).  Yes, I was.. there was a wedding and she was the bridesmaid at eighty-seven and I was the wedding-photographer, and it was like this great opportunity to take pictures of this great photography-guru. So I was going click-click-click, and she said, “Oh, don’t be a shutterbug!” – which was funny, it was an old nineteen-thirties word, a “shutterbug”?,  you know, someone who’s always going..  (who’s) unable to experience the situation, so, in great panic, (is) taking as many pictures as possible, hoping to have an experience of the situation later by preserving it. So that’s, I guess, the drawback of trying to objectify your passing fancy, or emotion, to freeze the emotion really, or to solidify it, or codify it. So, still, there’s a question of why do it?

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately sixty-six-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately seventy-one-and-a-half minutes in

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