Sunday, November 30, 2008

"the old moon in the young moon's arms."

Spectacular Sky Scene Monday Evening

Joe Rao Skywatching Columnist

Every once in a while, something will appear in the night sky that will attract the attention of even those who normally don't bother looking up. It's likely to be that way on Monday evening, Dec. 1.

A slender crescent moon, just 15-percent illuminated, will appear in very close proximity to the two brightest planets in our sky, Venus and Jupiter.

People who are unaware or have no advance notice will almost certainly wonder, as they cast a casual glance toward the moon on that night, what those two "large silvery stars" happen to be? Sometimes, such an occasion brings with it a sudden spike of phone calls to local planetariums, weather offices and even police precincts. Not a few of these calls excitedly inquire about "the UFOs" that are hovering in the vicinity of our natural satellite.

Very bright objects

Venus has adorned the southwestern twilight sky since late August. No other star or planet can come close to matching Venus in brilliance. During World War II, aircraft spotters sometimes mistook Venus for an enemy airplane. There were even cases in which Venus drew antiaircraft fire.

This winter, Venus is the unrivaled evening star that will soar from excellent to magnificent prominence in the southwest at nightfall. The interval by which it follows the Sun will increase from nearly three hours on Dec. 1 to almost four hours by Jan. 1. It's probably the first "star" you'll see coming out after sunset. In fact, if the air is very clear and the sky a good, deep blue, try looking for Venus shortly before sunset.

Jupiter starts December just above Venus and is moving in the opposite direction, dropping progressively lower each evening. By month's end Jupiter meets up with another planet – Mercury – but by then Jupiter is also descending deep into the glow of sunset. In January, Jupiter will be too close to the Sun to see; it's in conjunction with the Sun on Jan. 24.

Earthlit ball

A very close conjunction of the crescent moon and a bright star or planet can be an awe-inspiring naked-eye spectacle. The English poet, critic and philosopher, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) used just such a celestial sight as an ominous portent in his epic, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." In addition, there are juxtaposed crescent moon and star symbols that have appeared on the flags of many nations, including Turkey, Pakistan, Malaysia, Algeria, Mauritania, and Tunisia.

Also on Monday evening, you may be able to see the full globe of the moon, its darkened portion glowing with a bluish-gray hue interposed between the sunlit crescent and not much darker sky. This vision is sometimes called "the old moon in the young moon's arms." Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was the first to recognize it as what we now call "earthshine."

As seen from the moon, the Earth would loom in the sky some 3.7 times larger than the moon does for us. In addition, the land masses, the oceans and clouds make the Earth a far better reflector of sunlight as compared to the moon. In fact, the Earth's reflectivity varies as clouds, which appear far more brilliant than the land and seas, cover greater or lesser parts of the visible hemisphere. The result is that the Earth shines between 45 and 100 times more brightly than the moon.

The Earth also goes through phases, just as the moon does for us, although they are opposite from what we see from Earth. The term for this is called "complementary phases." On Nov. 27, for example, there was a new moon for us, but as seen from the surface of the moon that day, there appeared in the lunar sky a brilliant full Earth. A few nights later, as the sliver of a crescent moon begins to appear in our western twilight sky, its entire globe may be glimpsed.

Sunlight is responsible for the slender crescent, yet the remainder of the moon appears to shine with a dim blush-gray tone. That part is not receiving sunlight, but shines by virtue of reflected earthlight: the nearly full Earth illuminating the otherwise dark lunar landscape. So earthshine is really sunlight which is reflected off Earth to the moon and then reflected back to Earth.

Keeping it all in perspective

Keep in mind that this head-turning display of three celestial objects crowded together will be merely an illusion of perspective: the moon will be only about 251,400 miles (403,900 km) from Earth, while Venus is nearly 371 times farther away, at 93.2 million miles (149.67 million km). Meanwhile, Jupiter is almost 2,150 times farther away than our natural satellite at 540.3 million miles (869.0 million km).

Those using binoculars or a small telescope will certainly enjoy the almost three-dimensional aspect of the moon, but Venus will be rather disappointing appearing only as a brilliant blob of light, for right now, it's a small, featureless gibbous disk. That will change in the coming weeks, however, as Venus approaches Earth and the angle it makes between us and the Sun allows it to evolve into a "half-moon" phase in mid January, and a lovely crescent phase of its own during the latter part of February and March.

Jupiter on the other hand is a far more pleasing sight with its relatively large disk, cloud bands and its retinue of bright Galilean satellites. All four will be in view on Monday evening, with Callisto sitting alone on one side of Jupiter, Ganymede, Io and Europa will be on the other side. Io and Europa will in fact, appear very close to each other, separated by only about one-sixth the apparent width of Jupiter.

Venus 'eclipse' for Europe

As beautiful as the view of Venus, Jupiter and the moon will be from North America, an even more spectacular sight awaits those living in parts of Western Europe where the moon will pass in front of Venus.

Astronomers refer to this phenomenon as an "occultation," taken from the Latin word occultāre, which means "to conceal." This eye-catching sight will be visible in complete darkness across much of Eastern Europe. Farther west, Venus will disappear behind the dark part of the moon either during evening twilight or just before the Sun sets. When Venus emerges, it will look like a brightening jewel on the slender lunar crescent. For virtually all of Europe, the Sun will have set by then, the exception being southern Portugal (including Lisbon).

Such favorable circumstances are quite rare for any given location. For example, the last time London was treated to such a favorably placed Venus occultation such was back on October 7, 1961. And after 2008, there will not be another similarly favorable Venus occultation for the United Kingdom until January 10, 2032. So be sure to make the most of this upcoming opportunity.

Monday, November 24, 2008

you are invited!

i turn 33 on fri night at midnight...if you are in town, come to skylark 10pm-2am where i will be DJing!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

exhibit in NYC

New Mourning

Jason Simon, Melanie Schiff, Jack Strange, SLEEP, Jason Lazarus, Nataliya Slinko, Haseeb Ahmeb, Jonathan Rafman, Chris Collins, and Bret Schneider.

November 23 - December 20, 2008
Opening Reception: Sunday November 23 from 6-9PM

New Mourning
Curated by Karen Archey
New Mourning is a group exhibition of emerging contemporary artists that examine the effect of being raised within television, advertising, and other forms of media culture. The artists included in New Mourning were born in
the 1970’s and 80’s – a generation whose adolescent years witnessed a proliferation of media targeted directly at youth. It is recognized that the immersion of media has precipitated feelings of unattainable idealism, boredom, and apathy. Such feelings are digested and parsed out through the work of New Mourning artists Melanie Schiff, Jack
Strange, Jason Lazarus, SLEEP, Nataliya Slinko, Chris Collins, Bret Schneider, Jon Rafman, Haseeb Ahmed and others. The exhibition will focus on the use of fantasy, angst, farce, and ethereal imagery – all devices that point to a collective desire to sublimate the malaise that has resulted from being raised within an environment suffused with media. Jason Simon’s video, Production Notes, 1987, serves as an elucidative reference for the idealist construction
of advertising that has affected the generation being examined. Much of the work included in New Mourning hints at the revival of movements such as Surrealism, psychedelica, and grunge, but is paired with an earnest self awareness
that transcends the danger of ironic embrace.

Curated by Karen Archey, New Mourning opens November 23, 6 – 9PM, at the temporary space MWNM, located at 17 Orchard Street in the Lower East Side. It is generously supported by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Cardinal Investments. New Mourning follows Meet Waradise, an ongoing series of events named after
MWNM’s neighboring bar, Sweet Paradise. Meet Waradise seeks to establish connections within the ever-growing pool of young artists inhabiting New York City. MWNM is: Alice Wells, director; Karen Archey, curatorial; and Caroline Askew, designer. The exhibition will run through December 20th.

MWMN 17 Orchard St New York, NY
Alice Wells, Director Karen Archey, Curator Caroline Askew, Designer

17 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002

F to East Broadway
Wednesday - Sunday 12-6PM or by appointment

MWNM is Alice Wells––director, Karen Archey––curatorial, and Caroline Askew––design.


Friday, November 21, 2008


so i just inherited 270 espionage industry marketing photos. these photos were taken by a freelance photographer paid to canvas wal-mart, kohls, bed bath and beyond, macy's, cost plus, carsons, crate & barrel, and target to strategically and surreptitiously go into the stores with a digital point and shoot and document product lines, brands, product designs, and merchandising designs. i am trying to figure out what to do with this archive, but in the meantime, i pulled a little series out of this group that is below. when the photographer had the chance, they made a quick display on a more neutral background in the aisle (often on the floor) in order to get a clean view of specific this case, the cups, saucers, bowls and plates:

above: cost plus world market

above: macy's

above: kohl's

above: crate and barrel

above: bed, bath, and beyond

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

omg the first 10 seconds...

Thursday, November 13, 2008


here is the large format image from the obama rally i is of the ambient light aura above the night's festivities

"Obama election night rally, Grant Park Chicago, Nov 4, 2008"

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

obama - election night rally - grant park

here are some images i made from last nights obama rally in grant park. seeing the joy, excitement, and seriousness on everyone's faces was reassuring on multiple levels.

i had tickets to the rally itself (a bit of a scarce opportunity, a lot of my friends were wait-listed) but found the security lacking. i went through three checkpoints (which i was rushed through) where all i had to show was my ticket, printed out from an email attachment. i never had to show identification, empty my pockets, or go through any kind of metal detector.


but, the plus side of this is many people were able to congregate and, as a community, share this event with each other and the nation.

i made some 4x5s pre-rally which i will post soonish...i think one picture will be the result of that earlier, slower, more strategic photoshoot.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008 mentions cabrini image

Jason Lazarus. Inside Cabrini Green housing projects (before razing), 2007. Inkjet luster photograph. © Jason Lazarus.

Chicago Photography
Made In Chicago: Photography from the Bank of America LaSalle Collection
The Chicago Cultural Center
78 E. Washington St., Chicago, IL 60602
October 18, 2008 - January 4, 2009

There is still plenty of time to catch "Made in Chicago: Portraits from the Bank of America LaSalle Collection" since it will be on view until January 4th, 2009. And that's a good thing too because this is an excellent, expansive show featuring the work of Chicago photographers or photographers working in Chicago. Either way, pride of place is at the heart of this exhibit and the work delivers.

Though the Bank of America LaSalle's photography collection is international in scope and extremely large, the works on view are essentially a survey of "the Chicago pictures [. . .] a particularly strong sub-set in the entire collection." (1) With that in mind, there is no overall motive for exhibition, other than displaying pictures related to Chicago that are of importance and high quality, a criteria that I will always be comfortable with. Within the exhibition, through the savvy choices of the curator, distinct themes relating particularly to Chicago emerge and are elaborated on.

The physical rise of the city of Chicago is documented by several photographers. Jonas Dovydenas's Steel Worker, Chicago, 1969, in which a bare-backed worker, hardhat off, no safety gear visible, works hundreds of feet in the air on a skyscraper (top image). It's a classic image of the manual laborer in the twentieth century. The explosive growth of Chicago just in the last decade alluded to well by Bob Thall, though through its absence. In his Chicago (East View from the IBM Roof), from 1989, we see that view which overlooks the Chicago River. What is notable is that one can actually see the river and see Lake Michigan; they are not obscured by the tall skyscrapers that currently populate that location. On closer view there are vacant lots, parking lots (as opposed to many-storied ramps) and areas of grass. As today's Chicago Tribune worries about the end of the Chicago building boom, this image reminds the viewer of how very recent Chicago's tall skyline is.

Architecture and racial politics combine in a selection of photographs examining public housing projects. Though not from Chicago, Thomas Struth's South Lake St. Apts, No. 1 Chicago (1990) takes a straightforward, documentarian approach to the building. The image is reminiscent of the work by Bernd and Hilda Becher, soberly showing the building absent of people. One doesn't need much to tell this is a project, the caged middle section of the building connecting the two oppressive towers says volumes about the idealistic failure of the projects, all heightened by Struth's straight approach. Immediately to the left of these is a work by one of Chicago's most interesting, emerging photographer, Jason Lazarus. Most of Chicago's housing projects are by now demolished and last year the infamous Cabrini-Green project was slated for the wrecking ball. Before the building was brought down, Lazarus was able to gain access and document the building. On display at the Cultural Center is his Inside Cabrini Green housing projects (before razing), 2007. The image depicts a poem left by a resident, written on the soon-to-be-destroyed wall of the building, reflecting on a life lived there. It's touching and human. While the projects were a resounding failure, Lazarus' image reminds us of the people that lived there and, at least a few, were happy. One wonders where the author of the poem has gone now that his, and many, many others, low-income housing has been destroyed with little thought of replacement or alternative.

Portraiture was also addressed by several photographers. Of them, Dawoud Bey was well represented with two works. Bey's Muhammed (2001) is a portrait of a young African-American boy sitting atop his bicycle, looking calmly back at the viewer. Perched upon his bike his innocence and vulnerability raised an unfortunate thought in my mind, "I hope he doesn't get hurt, I hope he makes it," as far too many of Chicago's grade-school are killed every year in gang crossfire, a true mark of shame on the city. Bey's other portrait Toyia, Kelvin & Erica II (1993) is of three African-American teenagers, the image divided into six separate panels. Here Bey leaves the edges of the negative in the work, and the images overlap slightly. Each of the three subjects is divided directly down the middle of their head into separate panels. Conceptually this could refer psychological rupture or their separate yet related experiences. Tellingly, the lower right panel focuses on a Mickey Mouse watch worn by a sitter, a classic still-life motif. It's a complex portrait and life is complex.

"Made in Chicago" gathers many significant works together and lets the work speak, rather than over-controlling the exhibition and forcing connections. Related works are grouped close together so that associations are gentle nudges and easily made. The depth is also an asset, one may encounter work by photographers not widely shown. I discovered the work of Wayne Miller, who is usually associated with Steichen's "Family of Man" exhibit, through two pitch-perfect pictures Sandlot Baseball and Strike Captain During Protest by the Packing House Workers (both 1948). This will be an exhibit to go back to.

--Abraham Ritchie

(1) Whitney Bradshaw. Curator of Photography for the Bank of America Collection. From the exhibition introduction to "Made in Chicago: Portraits from the Bank of America LaSalle Collection." 2008.

Posted by Abraham Ritchie on 11/03 |


Sunday, November 02, 2008

victim of the economy!

my friend lindsey took these shots of my halloween costume before we went out on halloween...i was a post-suicidal wall street trader hanging from his own noose-tie. the tie really stood up on its own, no photoshop necessary! ended up at lumpen for the harold arts artshow/halloween party...the art was really good, most of it a result of harold's summer residency program...


found in the tod papageorge essay "walker evans and robert frank: an essay on influence" the following quote:

immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different

-t.s. eliot