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Archive for April, 2008

Discovered this genius of a site by way of the blog “It’s Nice That.”

The Lion publishes one found photo a day accompanied by a song. The owner Arian Behzadi describes it simply as: “For when a song fits a picture or when a picture fits a song.”

Found photos invite us to dream up narratives and giving them a soundtrack is the perfect way to paint immediately and without words a mood and a story. Schoolgirls skip rope caught in mid-air to the hopping beat of Port O’Brien’s “I Woke Up Today.” The view from a train window unreels to the slow melancholy of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.”

This image of two teens dancing pairs up with David Bowie’s “Heroes.” The lyrics “I will be king and you will be queen…just for one day” seems to fit this photo perfectly—two awkward teens frozen in a dance move, eyes locked, goofy and ecstatic.

New snapshots and new music pretty much every day. You have to open the link to the song in a new window.

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We tend to think of found photos as existing solely in the physical world, pieces of paper from the past covered with chemical emulsion and unknown faces, but the Internet opens up a whole new universe of vernacular photography where the images are less tangible, more ephemeral and free from the bonds of ownership. It’s a vast community-owned pool of pictures.

Sites are springing up that recognize this. As Found is an online gallery that curates groups of photos around themes. This image is from a group called Presidential runner-ups—a sad collection of all the also-rans in US history harvested from the Web. Other sets include handshakes, mechanical parts, albinos. Humor runs through all of these with a chuckle at our own banality. As the owners of the site declare: “Finding is creating.” Recognizing a pattern and naming it gives these images a previously unowned significance.

And take a look at Many Same and Secretly Creepy, too.

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Salvadoran artist Victor Cartagena’s latest installation, Invisible Nation, fills the walls of Galeria de la Raza with swarms of official Latin American ID photos, many of them passport pictures from the 70s and 80s, thousands of nameless faces that impress with sheer numbers, but also make it seem necessary to look more closely at each of these singular individuals and imagine their story.

For Cartagena, these masses are the reality of immigration so often forgotten in political discussion. Faced with this tidal movement of lives across borders, he insists that identities must be made out within the crowd.

Images are multiplied throughout the gallery. Video loops of faces play on the walls. Armies of photos are tacked with sewing pins to one broad expanse. Boxes covered in brown butcher paper sit in various corners of the gallery looking like so many drug bundles. The front of each package carries someone’s photo, as if all of these lives are parcels to be trafficked.

Cartagena turns tea bags into gauzy envelopes, wrapping each photo in a cottony haze. He then gathers these packets into bunches of 10 or 20 and hangs them from the gallery ceiling. The immediate impression is one of weight, a forest of ponderous hanging cords. A barely audible whisper emanates from somewhere overhead. I don’t speak Spanish, but the few words I can make out are “tristeza más tristeza.” Sadness more sadness.

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