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Wednesday, November 20, 2013


new facebook face
Facebook has become a part of my life, and it has become a part of the lives of several people I know and people I don't know. I even have facebook friends I don't know. Not many. I'm not one to collect facebook friends like autographs in the high school annual. I prefer just people I know. An awful lot of my facebook friends are people I call friends out in pre-cyber world. I don't have the greatest, longest list of friends there is, but when I look at the list with pictures of my facebook friends, I think they are really neat people individually. I feel rich in the people I know. Again, not numbers, but fullness of caring. It's taken a long time for me to fall into the flow of writing comments that are more than a few words. Sometimes I'll write a paragraph in the comment box. I like about facebook too, that I have become acquainted with some folks I think are cool people, people who think about things, who see fresh perspectives, both visually and conceptually. I've recently become friends with a guy in NYC from Chester, Virginia, outside Richmond, who has been taking b&w photographs of New York with his cell phone. They are gorgeous photographs. Color pictures too. He gets the curved reflection on a bus windshield of buildings across the street, and through the reflection can be seen the driver's open side window framing a section of the same building  without distortion, inside the windshield reflection. I like that he leaves somewhere a clue to help you see that the image is the back window of a car, or the roof of a car, the hood.

rob copeland
To go straight to the point and not beat around the metaphorical bush, I love everything about Rob's photographs. Every detail. The compositions I see first. Then, looking at the composition, the details take over and pull the eye deeper into the picture. For my eye, this picture above of a Manhattan street satisfies my eye all the way in the distance to the last trace of the buildings. It's perspective he plays with in a lighthearted surrealist way. Surrealism was originally lighthearted. Rob's images have a lightness that makes them float in place. I'm not trying to sound fancy. It's the best I can put into a few words what I feel visually in his photographs. Each one exists on its own. It's like it has its own existence. This is the quality I call art. I've seen so many by now that when I see a movie filmed in contemporary New York, it becomes a story Rob's photographs illustrate. His visual appreciation of Manhattan is there with Woody Allen's. Rob's photographs catch a glimpse of personality in the city. In my own experience, I sometimes like to make close up photos of donkey faces, looking for a portrait that gives a sense of the donkey's personality, same as I do getting a portrait of a person I know. In a lot of the donkey pictures, the eyes somehow express the personality. Jenny's eyes are so alive in photographs I tend to speak to her like her consciousness is there. This is what I mean about Rob's photos glimpsing the personality of New York City, day and night, cars, people, architecture, compositions found in pavement, stairways, subways. His pictures somehow depict a living presence I find unusual. He is making quite a catalogue of strikingly beautiful images of the city, new ones every day, contemporary as it gets.

ai wei wei

 Rob posts the day's new pictures on facebook every day. I love to go through them, image to image, the day's catch. He plays with the art of the reflection, the art of the shadow, the art of the blur. Other photographers, of my limited experience, sometimes will use a reflection in a larger image, but I've never seen anybody make an art form of reflections that makes me "reflect" -- why did it take so long in the evolution of photography as an art form for the obvious to be noticed? These reflections have been there all along, varieties of them, everywhere, and we tend to look through them. When I go to the Mexican restaurant in Sparta, it has glass all across the front, curtained on the inside, I tend to look through the reflection at the decorations they have in the window and notices in Spanish. I miss the panorama reflected image of the parking lot behind me, the houses in the distance and the sky, selfie in landscape. It's there in front of my face like standing in front of a movie screen, and I look through it. I've become aware of reflections since knowing Rob's photographs. In store windows, I see what is inside and the reflection on the glass of the cars going by and stores across the street. Instead of wishing for a way not to see the reflection, now I welcome the reflection equal the display in the window. When I see the reflection too, it makes a kind of Rauschenberg silkscreen of one image over another. I started noticing the reflections I had been seeing through and it was almost like a new dimension, new awareness, seeing the first time what has always been there. It's a Duh moment. The kind where you slap the palm of your hand to your forehead and say, Where have you been all your life?

rob copeland

Rob and I have never met and may never. We've become friends by way of the comment boxes on facebook. Writing back and forth  we're acquainted such that we could have extended conversation were we to meet. As it is, we have extended conversation by way of facebook over time instead of compacted. I believe we know each other well enough now to speak freely over the phone like with someone we've known for years. I started seeing Rob's posts when I friended a friend of his, also Rob, and Rob Copeland's photographs began to appear daily. My thought was that this is somebody in New York like Robert Frank, Gordon Parks, Gary Winogrand, and probably has a book of photographs in print. I went to to see if he had any books. Not there. I took it for granted he had been at New York photography several years, was well known and respected in NY photography world, someone whose vision of the city is particularly his own and at the same time obvious. Until you see it, it's not there, and it was there all along. His photographs have different dimensions about them. He's not satisfied with only one dimension in his images. It turns out Rob Copeland is a guy in NY who has taken photographs for years and years, a lot of really good ones, but few that touched art. Then he bought his cell phone and started taking pictures with it, discovered reflections a little at a time until one day he saw them everywhere. He asked facebook friends to vote on possible names to call his pictures for the blogsite. Much interest in the word reflections. My anti-poetic suggestion was the word reflections is way overused unto meaningless. It was just a vote, no intent to persuade. He chose UPON REFLECTION: A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE OF NEW YORK CITY. When I saw it I lit up with joy. Just right. The word needed to be there, and he took the Vaseline lens poetic out of it like somebody who has written a good bit of advertising copy. It's clean and straight ahead. It's a headline that tells you in a few words what his pictures are doing. Rob, that was truly a poetically inspired moment, upon reflection. It's beautiful.
rob Copeland
I don't mean to be an ongoing commercial for Rob's art, but can't help it. I feel awe when I look at Rob's photographs, the same kind of awe when I see images by Joel Meyerowitz. I've said that before and mean it so much I'll probably say it again. Rob's photographs  have a stillness about them, a window onto metropolis in high-speed motion silent as a still life. I like knowing Rob through his art form, his new found art form in a time in his life when he felt like he needed something to connect for him. I don't want to make any wishes for Rob and his art that he would not want to make himself. And I don't know what they would be. I don't wish anything for him. I feel like Rob is in his flow and doesn't need the static of other people's wishes and ideas about what he oughta, except for when he puts out an appeal to his facebook friends to give him some feedback and ideas on a given decision. The best I can do for him is encourage. Feedback is important to artists of all varieties. Feedback does not mean advising, but giving honest thoughts on the matter. Not criticizing, but addressing, talking about.  This link will take you to Rob's photographic blog quick as thought itself. It's just a click away.
rob Copeland

1 comment:

  1. WoW, TJ! You blew me away with your first installment on WATERFALL ROAD, not only because you thought enough of my photography to make special note of it, but also in the way you did then and continue to do now. You have a depth of knowledge of the photographic arts and photographers that has certainly taught me more about these things than I've learned since college (many moons ago.) Your thoughts, comments, encouragement all mean a great deal, a GREAT deal. They are powerful motivators, barometers and guideposts for the directions I take, the new things I try, and the energy I pour into following my instincts. I am very grateful to Rob Edelstein for making our connection possible and to you for ... well, just being you! Thank you, my friend. - R