Wishing you happy holidays& a year full of blessings.Off to Bali!Love,Jessie and James
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
At what point do images tell us we are out of place? What landscapes of imagination open up when we enter new imagistic territories? How do unknown and unexpected masses of ambient imagery affect the making of pictures? How, then, does ambience frame the vision of photographers and movie-makers before they themselves attempt to bring the world into frame? What happens when sudden shifts in culture, place, and external stimuli make these ways of seeing apparent? Where are our imaginations located?For my presentation, I chose to tackle these questions in two parts: first, by introducing a 19th century travel photographer and essayist I am currently researching, and second, by considering about how our photographic practice has changed since we moved to Singapore 15 months ago. For both parts of my presentation, I chose to focus on the subjects of the photographs, as residents of these new "imagistic territories."
Scottish photographer John Thomson's career has been celebrated by a series of “firsts:” photo-historians claim that he published “the first book ever devoted exclusively to street photography,” he created the first photographic documentary, he was the "first photographer to have a whole society as his subject,” his four volume book on China is considered “a classic of sociological photography and reformist sympathy,” and an “innovative use of photomechanical technology.” On the other hand, Susan Sontag scorned Thomson's later work in London, calling him a class tourist, and "Street Life in London" as “perhaps the earliest model of the sustained look downward.” Likewise, in Nancy Armstrong’s Fiction in the Age of Photography, Thomson’s photographs serve to demonstrate how the picturesque aesthetic informed slum photography, which in turn, she argues, distances the subject from the possibility of reform and rendered him or her into an object of fascination for Thomson’s middle class public.
These scholars are concerned with the problematic appropriation of the photographic subject for use and observation, a disquiet heightened by the very fact of Thomson’s status in this important strain of photographic use, the documentary.
That said, it is time to restore agency to the subjects of the photographs, those that people the "ambient" landscapes captured in the document, co-create the photograph, and who are engaged in the creation of the image. Subjects resist being captured in a frame in a way that contemporary criticism does not always account for. Prevailing criticism brings to light sets of ideas that trace power and influence from photographer to audience, but do not adequately address the relationship between subject, photographer, and audience in the moment of photographing. This paper will revolve around these three nodes of exchange -- photographer, subject, and audience -- but I hope ultimately to leave you with the subject, the men and women who are in focus in this frame and every frame, though somehow, of whom we can have only glimpses.
The photograph and the essay share the same author; nonetheless, interpretative details about the subject resist and append the information provided by the essay text. Photographs radiate meaning in variegated patterns, and our responsibility is to chart the vast differences in what we see, inside the photographic frame, and what we assume, or read about, occurring beyond the frame. The photographic detail exhorts against the division between the indexical moment of photographing and the material photograph. This contingent detail, the King's uniform, is a flaw or an opportunity that, to rephrase Benjamin, will never consent to be wholly absorbed in text.And from part two, on Morgan & Owens in Asia:
In the first photograph, we have just "parachuted" into this Khamu girl's life - our boat landing at the beach near her village in Northern Laos only moments before. To me this photograph is unsatisfactory, for its prevalent emotion is trespass. This image is brought to you by Dolce and Gabbana.
In the video, the children pose for a group shot. The punctum in this sequence, for me, is the couple looking on -- tourists -- and our future audience.
In our move to photograph Asia, we have found a new use for an old technology, Polaroid transcends language barriers, invites collaboration. When people see what they look like, what sort of image we intend, they adjust, they direct, and they get something in return.
The photographs that bring us the most joy, I believe, were those made in collaboration with the subjects. They are records of an encounter, the willingness to engage strangers, an hour spent together. I made this photograph after we had gotten to know each other, and we had photographed several children in her village. She has changed her skirt from her school uniform to a favorite, and posed herself at home with a friend. She doesn't know why we are there, or what audience these photographs will have, but like the King of Siam, she knows how she wants to look.
Thanks for watching!
Friday, November 12, 2010
Friday, November 5, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
PS. Our good friend Cedric Angeles did the photography and video for the New Orleans video.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Getting in late on Friday night, he strolled up to meet us at The Straights Collection Cafe just near midnight after some business dinner, apparent by his pin-stripe shirt and sleek shoes. The hotel owner swoops in and comments on his classy digs. Joe shrugs it off with something like, "Always working, my dear, always working." He then goes on about last years Prada, how he grew up here in Georgetown, spent a bit of the 70's in London, the early eighties in Chelsea, and by the late nineties had returned to Penang to handle the family business. Ten years later, it appears he's been doing things we love to see people do -- connecting people, artists, cultures, and looking for everything good in his hometown. In 2008, Georgetown was brought on by UNESCO as a world heritage site. And now we're here.
By Saturday morning, Joe (above) was in his casual best and ready to show us the town like he had built the place--though he would never claim it as such being as unassuming as he is generous. Meeting the likes is one true perk of this job. By the end of the shoot, as is often the case, we were hooked on Penang... and loving AFAR's idea of a travel narrative.
The good people of AFAR included us in their contrib's page, which clearly has us looking forward to the next great journey they send us on.
SIDE NOTE: On the Editor's Page for this one-year anniversary issue, he talks person-ably of the magazine's first 75,000 subscribers and speaks of the next 25-thousand readers he hopes to see in the coming months. So look for the logo on the newsstands. We see it here in Singapore, so it should be a breeze!
Sunday, August 22, 2010
"A major project exploring identity, architecture, memory, community, a sense of place and civic space."
In fact, I think I know quite a bit about Tiong Bahru, to the extent that Mickey, my friend who alternates between his apartment at Blk 56 and another one in London, always wonders what I do for a living.
Like I know that the unit next to him is occupied by women only, including an ex-stewardess who is rather beautiful, and that her mom is the accounts clerk for the egg store downstairs, and that her uncle runs the coffee shop at the street corner.
I also know that further up the road lives an American photographer couple who does work for travel magazines.
Or that the Chinese restaurant a few car parks away serves the best coffee ribs.
[Read the rest of his essay, with pictures here. I hear the coffee ribs are delicious.]
Friday, August 20, 2010
James made the newspaper, the Shanghai Weekly, when two photographers, well, make that three, converged during coverage of a new al fresco bar called Flair on the 58th floor of the Ritz. 58 stories wasn't tall enough, so James stood on a table. (I took a few shots from up there too, but I was wearing a skirt, and it's windy up there!) Reposting from facebook.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Since we've been back in Singapore, I have been the laziest blogger, but keeping super busy in nearly every other aspect of our lives, so I hope you'll forgive me!
Thursday, June 10, 2010
James and I have been traveling this month in the states, soaking up the Springtime style and the love.
Dad Owens called day before yesterday from the Dallas airport newsstand to see what issues we were in, and we had to go and check. (Now that's a sign of a good vacation!) Turns out street food ran in Budget Travel, a nice graphic roundup featuring Maxwell Food Center in Singapore, and our long awaited story on Epiros, Greece ran this month in the opening pages of Travel + Leisure. Will post when we get home to our scanners late this month.
Next up on our grand tour:
Later on today, a jaunt up to Concord for the Hawthorne Society conference, and some quality time with Walden Pond. Then it's off to Vassar College to see Sara and James get married (and USA beat England). We'll take the scenic route back into NYC, stopping by Beacon to see our dear Sam, Sarah, Greta, and Beck grow up. Then it's a few days in NYC to finish catching up with everyone. I hope to see you there.
On June 17th, Jessie heads to Paris and James heads to Chicago. In both places we will be doing the same thing: watching the World Cup.
Last time we followed the wins (inadvertently), in Germany, France, and then Italy for the win! I can't believe it's been four years, but I can't wait til it starts.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
In the May issue of Travel + Leisure: Our shots from Culebra for the round-up of "30 Secret Islands." Just off the coast of Puerto Rico, a 25 minute flight from downtown San Juan, Culebra is hardly a "secret" - it has one of the Caribbean's most glorious beaches, Flamenco beach, pictured here.
We were secretly jazzed to share the spread with one of our friends and photo-heroes, Frederic Lagrange.
A flip book of more of our shoot on delightful little Culebra coming soon.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
This Taoist ceremony, which lasted two days, was to honor the birthday of a god, Xuan Tian Shang Di. As it happens, the third day of the third lunar month also falls on my birthday this year, which also lasted through two days of feasting.
We've arranged the images more or less in chronological order.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Sunday, March 7, 2010
We stayed at a great boutique hotel--Rumah Mertua--and spent some of the finest afternoons hanging out watching the rainy-season deluge, sent forth from Mt. Merapi daily like clockwork. A fantastic trip. Cheers Joe!
...and there's even video from Borobudur!
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I broke up the images into four major sections: temple life, the locals, street life, and the river. At the end, you get a glimpse of two premier hotels in the area.
[story books are no longer available. For a peek at more from the story, go to: www.morganowens.com/portfolio_laos_2009.htm)
As we travel around the region, it's clear that Luang Prabang is a unique experience, hugely recommended. The combination of mountain village setting, mild-mannered tourism, Buddhist vibe, and the mighty Mekong makes the town hum all its own, indifferent to the rest of the world.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Read the story at:
Then go check out some hotshots at www.wonderfulmachine.com
The feature we shot in Laos last October for Travel +Leisure has hit newsstands! You'll find it in American editions of the February 2010 issue or here.
Also, our images from shoots in Vieques and Hotel Casablanca in San Juan Puerto Rico ran in the November 2009 issue of Travel +Leisure as part of their "Affordable Caribbean Hotels" feature.
We'll be posting OUR favorite shots in coming days!
Sunday, January 10, 2010
- lunch: phad thai and tom yam soup
- dinner: James's pizza, with kang kong and golden mushrooms
- breakfast: pork, fish, and vegetarian porridge at Ah Chang
- snack: dragon fruit and dark chocolate
- lunch: katong laksa, rojak and lime juice at 328 Katong Laksa (see above)
- snack: nutella tart and pear tart at Everything but Fries
- dinner: chilli crab, buns, sauteed kailan with garlic, tiger beer, and fried, stuffed tofu at Jumbo
- breakfast: Set 1 (kaya toast, eggs, iced kopi) at Toast Box
- lunch: popiah rolls, roast pork with rice, chwee kueh, carrot cake (savory), pork and red bean buns, and sugar cane juice at Tiong Bahru hawker center (see above)
- dinner: carrot ginger soup and salad, chez James
See how repentant we were by last night?