Category:scott sforza, wh producer

May 17, 2013



As soon as I saw these images of Marines called in to hold umbrellas over Presidents Obama and Erdogan yesterday, I laughed imagining how the Booya! diaspora of military fanbois from the previous administration would take it.

And right on cue, they declared a scandal, because male Marines do not hold umbrellas. Which, honestly.

This round goes to Obama on points. [images uncredited somehow on booyahoo! it's like the first step of their tumblr acquisition is to stop crediting image sources]

February 4, 2013

Chinese Transcendentalism


Photojournalist Feng Li has some truly epic images of Tienanmen Square in the recent post on Beijing pollution at In Focus. Like the giant video wall above, which feels like a cross between Blade Runner and Happy Together.


And this extraordinary image of a flag-raising ceremony just out of frame, which sure? Whatever you need to say in order to get that amazing gradient.

If Frederic Edwin Church were alive today, he'd be wearing a panda mask and painting in Beijing.

China's Toxic Sky [see fullsize images by Feng Li/Getty at The Atlantic]
Previously, related: Kodak Colorama

January 9, 2013

Supreme Sforza

image: protestor in front of the US Supreme Court on Jan. 8, 2013, the 11th anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo prison. by Saul Loeb for AFP/Getty

I've been meaning for a couple of weeks now to post a photo of the extraordinary construction scrim on the front of the US Supreme Court, which has a full-scale photo reproduction of the actual building. Here we go, since this tweet:

I had no idea. So I looked it up. And was troubled by the fact that I had no idea it had been in place since last May. During the 21-month west facade stone restoration project, "The scaffolding and ongoing conservation work will be concealed by a scrim that will mimic the Court's architecture."

The Supreme Court building was designed by Cass Gilbert with John Rockart, and completed only in 1935. From its overall classical Greek temple design to the sculptures on the facades to the smallest ornamentations of the bronze flagpoles and handrails, is highly symbolic. As Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes said at the laying of the cornerstone in 1932, its very creation and existence are symbolic:

The Republic endures and this is the symbol of its faith...the national ideal of justice in the highest sphere of activity.
So it is entirely appropriate, then, to take a symbolic view of the scrim as well, and its illusionistic simulation of Equal Justice Under Law. As symbolic curtains go, it's the most inadvertently damning drapery since Colin Powell covered up the UN Security Council's Guernica tapestry in 2003.

The anniversary of Guantanamo coincided with the unreleased ruling in the hearing on Pvt. Bradley Manning's illegal and abusive detention without charge. The cancer of vengeance and torture that the US government first directed only toward foreign others has spread to its treatment of our country's citizens.

And so the thing that gets me about Saul Loeb's photo above is not the hooded Abu Ghraib/GTMO/Fort Meade protestor, or the Court's photogenic tarp, but the police officers spread long the steps between them.

Interesting, related, and surprisingly full of scare quotes for a 2009 show: Ben Street's review of Goshka Macuga's Whitechapel installation about Guernica, which included the UN tapestry.


On July 11, 2006, on the floor of the US House of Representatives, Congressman Steve King, Republican from Iowa, presented a model of "a fence and a wall" he had designed. It was a site-specific proposal, to be located on the US-Mexico border.

The fence/wall could be built, Mr. King explained, using a slipform machine to lay a concrete foundation in a 5-foot deep trench cut into the desert floor, a gesture that immediately brings to mind the Earth Art interventions of Michael Heizer. Pre-cast concrete panels, Post-minimalist readymades 10 feet wide and 13 feet high, could be dropped in with a crane.

"Our little construction company," Mr. King said, referring to the King Construction Company, which he founded, and which was then being run by his son, "could build a mile a day of this, once you got the system going."

Mr. King demonstrated the construction of the wall using his tabletop model, made of cardboard boxes, silver-painted wood slats, and a couple of feet of coiled wire [representing the wall's crown of concertina wire, which would be electrified "with the kind of current that would not kill somebody...we do that with livestock all the time."]

It's true that the remarkable simplicity of the design and the economy of the materials resonate the work of Richard Tuttle. But in the scale and especially the form, King seems to be making a conscious reference to the early work of Anne Truitt.

Seven, 1962, image:

Obviously, at some point after his arrival in Washington in 2003, King studied the iconic Truitts in local collections: the highly fence-like First (1961) [at the Baltimore Museum] and slab-on-plinth structures like Insurrection (1962) [at the Corcoran]. But even I was surprised to see King make such an explicit homage to Truitt's Seven (1962) [above, collection of the artist's estate].

Much like Christo and Jeanne-Claude, King conceived of his site-specific fence/wall to be temporary, at least conceptually:

You could take it back down. If somehow they got their economy working and got their laws working in Mexico we could pull this back out just as easy as we could put it in. We could open it up again or we could open it up and let livestock run through there, whatever we choose.
Whatever we choose. Thus the fence/wall becomes a symbol of American freedom.

According to the Congressional Record, Mr. King, appearing as an expert witness, exhibited his Study For A Fence And A Wall again a week later, in a joint hearing of the House Committees of Homeland Security and Government Reform.

The current whereabouts of King's model is not immediately clear, but I guess I could call about it. Meanwhile, I would love to see this work realized at full scale, if only temporarily, where it was conceived: right here in Washington DC. Perhaps in the National Gallery's sculpture garden, or along one of the sketchier sections of Pennsylvania Avenue, where dangerous elements threaten Our Freedoms.

January 2017 inevitable update: Oh how we did not need to worry that this work might not have survived. On Jan. 13 Congressman King tweeted out a photo with it, and the new appointee for DHS. Study was installed on his coffee table in his office. It will be noted that it has a new base, set in unpainted wood feet, presumably a pair. The articulation of the wall at the ground and the underground footing are now fully visible. The box representing the desert floor, and the notch, where "you put a trench in the desert floor." are not seen. What was once site-specific is now available for installation anywhere, I guess. Though it's really tough to say at the moment.


November 5, 2012

'Whites, Lancaster, Oh, US'


I realize that if I don't mention these now, I never will. Because by this time tomorrow--or the next day--all will be right with the world again. Mitt Romney will have an abundance of time on his hands, and, most importantly, as The Awl's annotators so ably note, White House photographer Pete Souza's long nightmare will be over.

Here are some rather amazing photos, almost two weeks old now, yet among the most recent to be posted to Mitt Romney's flickr stream, which is apparently the red-headed stepchild Log Cabin Republican to Instagram's Tea Party.

They're from a rally in, seriously, "Whites, Lancaster, OH, US," which simultaneously creates and conquers the mashup genre of photo-geotag-as-poetry-and-political-commentary.

Cox and Linkins are right to marvel at the WTFlighting because, holy smokes, the rally is being held at what cinematographers call "the hour before Magic Hour, where everything is drenched in either horrible raking light, shadows, or lens flares."

This is the stagecraft operation that seeks to inherit the mantle of Scott Sforza, the architect of the Mission Accomplished banner on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, which aircraft carrier he turned to catch the real Magic Hour."


With the setting sun lighting up a few buildings behind/around them, the Romney campaign fired up their rally stage, set in the middle of the intersection of Broad and Main in Lancaster, with two giant floodlights. Which also hit the crowd. No need to estimate how many people attended--you can count every one of them. They seem to fill around half the planned space, with the oldest of the old making sure the distant bleachers don't go to waste.


Here is my favorite glare, a photo I call "Idle-Class Tax Relief":


I assume it's a wide-angle lens or whatever, but it's fascinating to me how disorienting the perspective is on these photos. The size of peoples' heads. The indeterminate scale of that flag and those letters behind. And all uniformly in/slightly out of focus. Just so wild. It'll be good to be done with it.

image: Brian Snyder/Reuters via Buzzfeed

Mitt Romney's campaign had already printed the "Victory Rally" press passes when they hastily decided to turn an Ohio stump speech into a "storm relief event" yesterday. So Romney could be photographed receiving canned food and other supplies donated by his supporters. Which would be loaded onto a waiting Penske truck and, presumably, driven to New Jersey or wherever.

image of Mitt getting crosswise via Jonathan Crowley/NYT

As Buzzfeed reports, though,

the last-minute nature of the call for donations left some in the campaign concerned that they would end up with an empty truck. So the night before the event, campaign aides went to a local Wal Mart and spent $5,000 on granola bars, canned food, and diapers to put on display while they waited for donations to come in.
Those prop supplies came in handy when supporters who didn't have something to 'donate' still lined up, wanting to meet their man; a campaign staffer. "Just grab something," they were told. And they did.

I would love to find photos of the same case of Gatorade being re-donated several times.


But it sounds like Mitt only actually worked the line for 30 minutes, so the campaign's Walmart stash probably held up. And I guess it's not important at what kind of shelter Mitt's Penske truckload of storm relief props ends up, as long as Paul Ryan is on hand to restack them.

The Making of Romney's Storm Relief Event [buzzfeed]

October 29, 2012

Sforzian Pano

Oh, Romney, Romney, Romney.


This Romney staffer's Instragrammed collage of a Las Vegas rally has been making the rounds because, holy smokes, people, everyone knows that the Republican tent is not that big, and anyway, right now it only has one pole: just cold say and do whatever the )$#( it takes to beat the black guy.

Which, even so, should put such a baldly distorted, manipulated image on the far side of WTF. So far, in fact, that it makes me think it really has to be attributed not, for once, to their propagandistic lying, but to a glitch from an auto-pano-stitching algorithm.

I tried to find the link again, but I've seen the iPhone 5's new panorama function occasionally erases moving cars. Do any non-partisan panorama people recognize this as typical of a particular app, or smartphone?

Previously and definitely related, and wow, really? "Whatever It Takes?" on 10/28/2004? Sforza now spelled with a CTRL-V

October 15, 2012

Homeless Hotspot


From the Washington Post report, "Charity president unhappy about Paul Ryan soup kitchen 'photo op'":

He added: "The photo-op they did wasn't even accurate. He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall."

Ryan had stopped by the soup kitchen for about 15 minutes on his way to the airport after his Saturday morning town hall in Youngstown. By the time he arrived, the food had already been served, the patrons had left, and the hall had been cleaned.

Upon entering the soup kitchen, Ryan, his wife and three young children greeted and thanked several volunteers, then donned white aprons and offered to clean some dishes. Photographers snapped photos and TV cameras shot footage of Ryan and his family washing pots and pans that did not appear to be dirty.

Verily he hath his reward.

The "The Girls Of Berlusconi" collection makes it rather NSFW, but The Spectacle of The Tragedy, Dutch designer Noortje van Eekelen's "visual database of the European Show and its Leading Actors is pretty amazing.

Don't you worry none about that link above, though, because it overlays this epic Pantone Matching System-style spectrum of Angela Merkel blazers over everything, no problem.


It's almost enough to make me want to make a 100-piece monochrome painting set, with the color for each piece derived from each of van Eekelen's appropriated news photos. Or maybe it's enough to eliminate doubling, and just do each discernible color.

Or maybe it's a screenprint portfolio, a politicized, EU-trainwreck-inspired riff on the inspiring Kayrock Color System, which I nabbed from the NY Artist Book Fair a couple of weeks ago. A beautiful work.

The Spectacle of The Tragedy [ via guardian, thanks peteykins]
Noortje Van Eekelen portfolio site []
Kayrock Screenprinting [kayrockscreenprinting]

October 6, 2012

Sforzian Trophy


Rep. Paul Broun, a physician, with an MD, and a BS in Chemistry, who is a Republican member of the House Science Committee, was speaking at the Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman's Banquet in September when he called out evolution and the Big Bang as "lies straight from the pit of Hell," and revealed there was a global atheist/science conspiracy to cover up the true age of the--I'm sorry, did you say something? Because I can't stop staring at the most amazing Sforzian backdrop in the entire 9,000-year history of planet Earth.

Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA): Evolution, Big Bang 'Lies Straight From The Pit Of Hell' [tpm]

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Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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about this archive

Category: scott sforza, wh producer

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