On the peak of Mt. Diablo is an inactive aviation beacon which fell into disuse after the Pearl Harbor attack. It is now lit once a year on December 7 in memory of those who lost their lives in the attack. I’ve been shooting it from work each year ever since I found out about it. Last year was the first year I’ve been able to shoot from the roof though.
Yes. This is 4 months late.
2012 (also the top image)
Since I was unaware of the Space Shuttle flyby on September 21, all I had with me at work that day was was a Nikomat SLR with a 105mm lens and Tri-X. I also had a yellow filter otherwise the haze would have made everything suck. Thankfully the shuttle came close enough that I was able to get something sort of usable too.
Also at the Oakland Museum with the Daniel Clowes exhibition is an exhibition of Social Justice posters. The exhibition itself kind of skips a lot of historical context. Since it’s about local history, I was able to fill in the gaps. But I’d still like a bit more context as to what the poster is about.
What I found really interesting though was the craft and aesthetics of these protest posters.* In the 1960s and 1970s, the posters designs and graphic styles were mandated by the limitations of cheap printing technology—no screening, two colors, hand-drawn type, etc. Despite the fact that the printing world has completely flipped now to where process-color printing is super cheap, heavy-coverage spot-color printing is expensive, and everyone has more fonts than they know what to do with; the style of what protest posters are supposed to look like hasn’t changed much.
*Surprise surprise, I geeked out on printing yet again.
That silkscreen is still a cheap point of entry for making personal posters helps a lot with this.* But more and more people have access to computers and laser printers now. I’m surprised and disappointed that I didn’t see any toner-based posters. It doesn’t seem unrealistic to expect people to be printing these on a Fiery at FedEx Office now.
*As does the fact that merchandising on tshirts is still alive and kicking.
Though at the same time, I’m not so surprised. The ease of access to printing has resulted in people who have no idea how to design being able to print anything they want. Whereas the higher barriers of entry required to create non-process offset of silkscreen work mean that those posters still look better.
There’s also the fact that nowadays, people are more likely to publicize an event on the web* than through postering a city.** I get the sense that the posters of today are more likely to be art pieces for purchase to support a cause than for any large-scale distribution. And that digital printing using cheap toner-based printers is not making it into museums yet.
*It’s been a dozen years since I was in college. Do people even flyer on campus now?
**Something Mark Bradford has noted as he has discussed how his raw materials are disappearing.
But enough about digital. The exhibition does show a lot of good silkscreen and offset work. I especially liked the blue on blue Earth Day poster which shows how much an abstracted globe still reads as home. It’s also always fascinating how few lines and colors you actually need to define faces and emotion. And it’s somewhat sobering to see that a lot of the protest posters are decades old and still as relevant as ever.
Another year another company photo contest. This year the prize is doubled. But the terms are still the same. I’m still tempted to enter with the same wise-ass entry as last year. Or maybe I should opt for one of these instead.
Black and white abstract double exposure of the company building.
Black and white photo of the outside of my office.
My friends are starting to encourage me to enter. We’ll see if the peer pressure and extra financial incentive wins out. I’m doubtful. I’m pretty stubborn.