Category:scott sforza, wh producer

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]

October 3, 2012

Crusoe Umbrella X Satellite


On the eve of the first presidential debate, I gank this photo, taken in March 1988:

The Claes Oldenburg sculpture, Crusoe Umbrella, on Nollen Plaza in Des Moines, Iowa, is surrounded by satellite dishes and equipment trucks beaming live video from the Iowa caucuses earlier this year. The demand for satellite video technology has gone far beyond television. (MUST CREDIT: Los Angeles Times Photo by Larry Davis)
You can buy this photo, in fact, for like $28. [ebay]

Three words: Oh my heck. [ via @petcobra]

Maurice Berger has a fascinating post on the NY Times Lens blog about Malcolm X's sophisticated use of the media, particularly photography, and particularly the antagonistic white/mainstream media, to reach out to potential black constituents.

Exhibit 1--actually and unfortunately, it's the only photo in the post--is Robert Flora's 1963 photo for UPI, the caption for which:

Malcolm X, the nation's number two black Muslim leader, reads a story about the Muslims in a national magazine as he sits in court with other Muslims awaiting verdict of an all-white jury deliberating the face of 14 Muslims accused of criminal assault against Los Angeles police officers.
manages to mention Muslims four times in once sentence. Impressive.

As Berger notes,

The men in the picture are focused on articles about the Nation of Islam. The Life magazine story that engrosses Malcolm, for example, was typical of the derisive coverage of the Black Muslims in the mainstream press: "The White Devil's Day Is Almost Over: Black Muslim's Cry Grows Louder," screams its headline.
It only proves Berger's astute point to point it out, but Malcolm X is anything but engrossed; he's holding the magazine up for the photographer. Even if he were able to read at that angle--he seems to actually be looking at the paper in the hands of the man to his left--a quick search of the actual LIFE Magazine article shows there is nothing to read. The other half of the spread is a full-page shot of Elijah Muhammad, by Gordon Parks. [The cover line for the feature reads, "A Negro Photographer Shoots From The Inside - THE BLACK MUSLIMS."]


Which, it turns out the man to Malcolm's right is also reading. Berger doesn't mention the headline on the paper the guy behind is very much not reading: "Seven Unarmed Negroes Shot in Cold Blood by Los Angeles Police."

Which turns out to be Muhammad Speaks, the NOI's newspaper. The first Google result for it appears, perfectly, in Gordon Parks' LIFE feature. Parks was following Malcolm at the trial. Which only underscores the newspaper's--and eventually, the magazine's--function as a prop, intended not [necessarily, nor not solely] for the jury, but for the photographers covering the trial.


If there's any doubt of the paper's message-within-a-photo, here are other shots by Parks, of Malcolm X selling the paper,


and holding it up at a Black Muslim speech in Harlem. [images via Gordon Parks Foundation]

I don't know why it has literally never occurred to me, but Berger's account of the vehemence and derision Malcolm X received from the white establishment, and the extraordinary calculation and discipline with which Malcolm carried and presented himself, and his unfailingly calm, cool, self-assured and buttoned-down image, really jumps out at me now. Especially when it's coupled with the terms Muslims and Black Muslims, which get repeated in the press of the day with such divisive, alienating force.

As if that was the absolute worst, scariest thing you could call someone. In 1963. In 2012, meanwhile, it's settled into a niche birther conspiracy.


Malcolm X as Visual Strategist [nyt lens blog]

September 17, 2012



It's not like this hasn't happened before. I remember one time, in the late 1990s, at the Stedelijk, being transfixed by a series of videos Gabriel Orozco had made. I was already very interested in his work for a while, but there was something about those videos.

Orozco had basically edited them in-camera while walking around New York and Amsterdam, and they had this wonderful, stream-of-perception-like quality, almost as close as you could get, it seemed, to the artist's own visual experience.

It basically changed the way I see. He was making off-hand, formal connections between things. There were a lot of circles, for example. Cups, bicycle tires, stickers on windows, bar coasters, bubbles. And once the connection had been made, it became impossible not to think of Orozco every time I saw circles in the world. There was much in Gabriel's early work that was similarly, quietly powerful in the way it awoke you [me] to nuances of seeing and understanding the world around you [me].

Which is not quite the point here, except that just as with Orozco and his circles, it's now basically impossible for me to see a blur and not think of Gerhard Richter. And not wonder, for example, how awesome it might be as a painting.1

Like--oh, I'll just pick any random thing--a still from the damning video of Mitt Romney speaking unguarded Republican truthiness at a private fundraiser in Florida, which was shot and disseminated anonymously for weeks before Mother Jones picked it up today. And attempted to protect the video's source--by blurring the footage. Except for Romney himself, whose face is unblurred, and the Corinthian capital behind him. Hey look, a circle.

1 The answer, of course, is it'd look awesome. Just look at those colors. The different segments of the video have different blurs, too. I think this one's especially velvety. Chinese Paint Mill certainly has their work cut out for them.

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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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Category: scott sforza, wh producer

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