Category Archives: Science

Mu Qiao: The Game of Sunshine

The wire pole in the sea. Photographed in Key West, the southernmost place of United States.

The wire pole in the sea. Photographed in Key West, the southernmost place of United States.

 

Photography, Text and Video by Mu Qiao, Copyright 2018

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THE GAME OF SUNSHINE

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I like to travel to places with water and sunshine. Miami, Key West and Cancun are all ideal destinations. For a traveler, the sunshine brings us bright scenery and a good mood. For a photographer, the abundant sunlight allows us to pay more attention to the composition of a picture and the object itself. In the “The Game of Sunshine” series, I tried to apply different perspectives, places, distances and compositions to record the traces of sunlight. In these photos facing the sky, the objects were relatively planar, such as masts, cities and sea levels, but the clouds increased the sense of depth in the picture. Moreover, Water and glass can create excellent effects of light and shadow, and there are distinct differences between spot sources and surface sources. In addition, the interior space with a curved wall can create a soft and smooth light and shade experience. Including sky, sea, building and people, the sunshine is creating its own photography all the time. The interesting and meaningful thing that we can do is to find a special perspective and capture the fleeting moments. 

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I was lying on a boat near Miami beach, watching the mast above, and an airplane was flying through the blue sky.

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Looking up from the bottom of the Aquarium World in Cancun. The sunshine above and a big glass wall create a fantastic light effect.

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The blue glass roof of a commercial street in Miami. Photographed at noon.

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The city of Miami and the yacht bay.

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Photographed at the “New World Center” building in Miami, which is designed by Frank Gehry.

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Photographed in Key Largo beach, an island near Key West. A boy is stretching himself under sunshine.

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A lizard is standing on the historical ruins of Maya Civilization, raising its head and enjoy the sunshine. Photographed in Cancun, Mexico.

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A lizard is standing on the historical ruins of Maya Civilization, raising its head and enjoy the sunshine. Photographed in Cancun, Mexico.

My girlfriend and I were waiting for a dolphin show in an aquarium. She turned her head, looked at the sunset and I took this picture.

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About The Author: Mu Qiao is a Graduate student enrolled in the School of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania. To access additional articles by Mu Qiao, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/mu-qiao-what-is-love/

 

Also posted in Architecture, Blog, Contemporary Architecture, Documentary, Environment, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life, Travel, UPenn Photography, Video

Grant Wei: Consumption

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Photography, Text and Video by Grant Wei, Copyright 2018

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CONSUMPTION

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“Household income is equal to investment plus consumption.”

How cute. In terms of generating sustainable economic growth, the optimal allocation for capital and labor in an economy is almost always an investment given enough consumption to sustain population growth.

However, it seems almost… wrong. What is the purpose of generating economic growth if we cannot consume our income in ways that generate a desirable level of utility? It seems as though there exists some sort of underlying purpose to life other than to generate economic growth.

But the question is — when is it enough? How do we allocate our income to generate the most utility in our lifetime? Is that even the purpose of life at all?

It seems almost instinctual. We think about what we want to eat or what we want to wear, but how much of our thought process is guided by a series of conscious decisions as opposed to vague inclinations?

And so, I wanted to capture the things that we consume, the objects in our lives that allegedly have a sense of meaning other than contributing to the growth of an economy.

Because, supposedly, our possessions should bring happiness to us. Supposedly. But, in the context of a constant drive towards external validation that will never come, is it really?

We constantly observe the cycles of our life driven by the whims of our desire to consume, but where does our sense of consciousness play in? We want. And then we want more. And more. And more. Until we die, and we stop wanting.

And maybe, that’s the summation of our life: a series of whims that contributed to some economic growth in the long run.

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About The Author: Grant Wei is a Sophomore enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2020. To access additional articles by Grant Wei, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/grant-wei-an-accurate-painting/

 

Also posted in Accessories, Blog, Documentary, Environment, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn Photography, UPenn: Photography Students, Video

Bob Shell: Letters From Prison #7

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Smithsonian Institute. Washington, DC

Letters From Prison: Part 7, 2018

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Letters by Bob Shell, Copyright 2018

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I lived in Washington, DC, in the mid to late 60s while working for the Smithsonian. I never worked in the buildings on the National Mall. Our division was housed in a big old building on Lamont Street that said “Sunshine Arcade Laundry” on the facade. (The museum has dozens of buildings all over DC, Maryland, and Virginia.). I shared an apartment with a friend a few blocks from DuPont Circle in one direction and Georgetown in the other. Those were the early days of the psychedelic revolution and I found myself right in the middle of it all. Some friends and I went up to NYC when I was between jobs and saw The Grateful Dead at a little club called The Bitter End. Also saw and met Frank Zappa and the Mothers at a really rundown old theater, where he spent most of the set insulting the audience because we all wanted to hear things from the album. He had a cymbal stand with a black leather glove on it, so that when he pumped the pedal it gave the audience the finger, and used it a lot. My best memory of that time in NYC was seeing The Velvet Underground at a club called Max’s Kansas City and falling madly in love with the ice princess Nico. I’m still a big VU fan and have a lot of their music on my MP3 player here.

Back in DC some people had bought an old theater called the Ambassador Theater and brought groups like Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, Vanilla Fudge, The Byrds, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Iron Butterfly, The United States of America, Mandrake Memorial, Stone Poneys, etc. The best rock groups of the day played there with very elaborate light shows behind them. In those days and well into the 70s there were no prohibitions against bringing cameras into concerts, so I took my somewhat battered Nikon F (no light meter, much less autofocus. In those days we felt real photographers didn’t use built-in meters!). I only had one lens, a 50mm f/1.4, so I had to get very close, shoot with the lens wide open, and push the hell out of the film. In spite of all that, I did get some decent photos. I think some were used in the “Freep” the underground newspaper, The Washington. Free Press. I was also doing drawings for them, Beardsley-esque pen and ink nudes. In school I’d taken “life drawing” classes, so nudity was no big deal to me. Working with nude models was just natural. Also, during those heady days in the 60s I joined a group known as the Washington Sexual Freedom League and attended their meetings, where some very interesting people would show up. One time Richard Alpert, Tim Leary’s research associate at Harvard, was there (he later became. Baba Ram Dass, and I read last year that he’s now considered one of the 100 most spiritually influential people in the world.). At another meeting Bill Stanley, Owsley’s cousin, was there from San Francisco, bearing gifts from “The Bear,” including a reel to reel tape of an unreleased Doors album. It was at one of those meetings, I think, that I first heard Procol Harum, for my money the best musical group to come out of the 60s. We had a lot of fun at those meetings, all legal back then.

But all good things must come to an end and I ran out of money because Congress kept cutting the museum’s research budget. One year they appropriated money for salaries but no research funds. Basically everyone sat around their offices and did nothing until the next fiscal year. Well, that’s. not completely true since some continued their work, funding it out of their own pockets. Yes, the government makes sense! Anyway my museum jobs ended and I worked odd jobs for a while, even working in a “head shop” called Yonder’s Wall or a while and a picture framing shop for a bit. But with no real jobs to be had I reluctantly left DC and moved to Richmond, Virginia where my cousin was attending art school. That move led to my first experience with the American ” Justice” System. That story next time……

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author and former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Center, Pocahontas, Virginia for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models. Mr. Shell is serving the 11th year of his sentence. To read more letters from prison by Bob Shell, click herehttp://tonywarderotica.com/bob-shell-letters-from-prison-2018-6/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Documentary, Friends of TWS, History, News, Photography, Popular Culture, Travel

Yash Killa: Book Review – Susan Sontag’s, On Photography

Yash Killa: High School Group Portrait

Yash Killa: High School Group Portrait

 

Photography and Text by Yash Killa, Copyright 2018

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Book Review: Susan Sontag’s, On Photography

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‘On Photography’, authored by Susan Sontag, is a 1977 compilation of a series of essays written by her on the subject throughout the 20th Century. The essays range from talking about the nature of photography along with the comparison between an image and reality in “In Plato’s Cave” to contrasting idealism with realism in through photographers like Walt Whitman, Rosenfeld Steiglitz, and Diane Arbus in the second and third chapters of the book. However the central theme, according to me, that strings these essays together is the role of photography and the subjective nature of how it is perceived as throughout the different periods in history.

Sontag made me wonder whether a photograph is a mirrored replica of reality, or is it an interpretation of it seen through the eyes of the photographer. When I set out to read the book, I had prepared myself to ask questions, challenge her thoughts, but also try to discern her perspective and in the process gain a deeper understanding of Photography.

As mentioned above, “In Plato’s Cave” deals with Sontag allegorises that the present day humanity is still in Plato’s Cave, and having not left it, everything seen by us is isn’t complete and absolutely realistic. For example, on a daily basis the Human Brain deals with 34GB1 of information – most of it in the form of images, and often these images are seen without their context or even without experiencing them. Humans are so dependent on such images that even though photography helps record passing moments in time, the images can often be misleading and doctored, thus having a ‘cost’ attached to it.

Now, cameras have found their way everywhere, and thus many times, I believe, experiences are automatically-lived through a photograph, reducing the pleasure of experiencing it first-hand in reality. Sontag quotes, “Essentially the camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own.” This leads into her second and third essay which talk about realism and idealism, showing the difference in how the role of photography can be perceived by different photographers. One one end, she talks about Whitman’s vision for idealism, and on the other she contrasts it with the ‘freaks’ she photographs in order to show that humanity is no longer integrated. This made me think about the conception of ‘high art’, and photography’s place within it – is photography another form of art that shows ‘realistic surrealism’, or is it beyond avoiding what’s considered ‘low’ in our society (something like what Diane Arbus did). An interesting observation was that even though Sontag didn’t even use a single photograph to back-up her claims, or provide a visual aid, I, as a reader immediately understood what she meant because the topics she wrote about are still pertinent in today’s society.

Sontag’s later essays explore the historical development of photography and reviews the nature of photography in its context – to quote Sontag, “Mallarme said that everything in the world exists in order to end in a book. Today everything exists to end in a photograph.” The essays make one wonder whether one ‘takes’ photographs or ‘makes’ them – whether photography is

1 “The Human Brain Is Loaded Daily with 34 GB of Information.” Tech 21 Century, 1 Mar. 2015, www.tech21century.com/the-human-brain-is-loaded-daily-with-34-gb-of-information/.

just a mechanical process of pointing a camera and clicking, or is an artistic process of interpreting what is seen differently.

To end, Sontag has published a list of questions, terms and quotes related to the field of photography that, even though are interesting to read, they are difficult to relate to and engage with due to the lack of context.

The read was an insightful and thought-provoking one. I would certainly recommend it to those who are interested in reading about different opinions and perspectives on a particular matter because what Sontag writes about is completely unique and slightly cynical, forcing one to leave their biases aside and compels readers to further understand the world around them.

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About The Author: 

“I come from a Boarding school. This image was taken on a formal dinner at the end of our final semester, and consists of my batchmates who lived in the same house with me over the course of 5 years. To any other observer of the image, it will be seen as a normal image of a group of friends, but it is quite different for someone who was a part of this picture. The number of memories, adventures, fights, food-parties we’ve had as a close-knit group; the number of jokes we’ve laughed up; the number of treks we’ve gone for together; how each one of us has had an impact on the development and growth on the other – it is all encompassed in this one photo taken at the end of our high-school journey that we embarked on, and completed together. This is what Sontag talks about in “In Plato’s Cave”. As I am writing this short write-up for the photo, it is already that I’ve become over-whelmed with nostalgia and joy, and this is why this photo will always be close to me.”

Yash Killa is a Freshman enrolled in the School of Arts & Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2020. To access additional articles by Yash Killa, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/yash-killa-night-magic/

 

Also posted in Blog, Book Reviews, Documentary, Friends of TWS, History, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Travel, UPenn

Alberto Jimenez: Immortality

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Cousins

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Photography and Text by Alberto Jimenez, Copyright 2018

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Book Review

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What stood out to me in Susan Sontag’s On Photography was her message on the infinite power and authority photography has in modern society. Sontag explains how being photographed gives us a sense of being real because photography is capturing reality by freezing it. It is a way to make reality tangible because you can hold a photograph. She also mentions how photography is not only to preserve the past but also to deal with the present.

This image reminds me of photography preserving the past to deal with the present because I recently lost my cousin (female on the right) to cancer. I have a lot of wonderful memories with her, but I do not possess images of all memories; therefore, those memories that I have photographed does make reality tangible. To mourn the death of a loved one, I believe, I need to remember the good times. Seeing pictures like this one have the power to take me back to that point in time and remember the tastes, the smells, the love, and my cousin. It reinforces the fact that she was real and that the love I have for her is real.

Sontag explains that photography is so powerful that it gives us a glimpse of the unknown. It allows us to see something before experiencing it. Which, in turn, enables us to formulate a bias about an event or mirrored reality even before experiencing it. Photography pulls us into that event by activating our sense of sight. Once we have that, we can imagine what we could possibly hear, see, touch, and taste. With my image, although I experienced that event years ago, it still has the power to give me the ability to remember that experience. Sontag explains what I would define as pre-experience where by seeing an image, we can imagine the experience we would have in the reality portrayed by that image. I would add that a photograph also allows for a post-experience where unlike pre-experience where you imagine what an experience would be like, you remember the experience.

Overall, Susan Sontag’s On Photography is very informative. I learned a lot about photography and its history with being considered an art or not and photography’s difference with paintings. At times, it felt as Susan Sontag was taking me on a tour of an exhibit as she explains Arbus’s work. I feel like her explanation equipped me with the knowledge to truly appreciate a photograph. It opened my mind to the type of questions I should ask myself when inspecting a photograph. For example, when initially looking at Arbus’s work, I did not exactly understand the images. I knew they were portraits, but I did not think about any meaning behind this. As Sontag explains Arbus’s work as “reactive—reactive against gentility, against what is approved” (pg 44), I understood that explanation when reevaluating the portraits. Ultimately, On Photography allowed me to understand the immortality of images and the power photography holds. 

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About The Author: Alberto Jiminez is a Senior enrolled in the School of Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2018. To access additional articles by Alberto Jimenez, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/alberto-jimenez-robotics-2/

 

Also posted in Blog, Book Reviews, Documentary, Engineering, History, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, UPenn Photography