Brother Martin at Birmingham


Nada and I saw an extraordinary show today at the Ryerson image centre – which (I repeat) is free and awesome, so if you don’t go, you stink! (so there)

Their latest exhibition (on ’till Apr 9th) – contains optimal black-history energy – a series of photographs from Birmingham, among the most important and transformative images ever entered into the public consciousness – and an equally bracing exhibit about the Black Panthers and the Attica riots.

I will share a few more pieces later (they allow flash-less photography – because they are true photo keeners – and want you to be enthused too!)

But for today – this one piece is striking enough to meditate upon awhile.

I had the strangest feeling, looking at it – like looking at light that actually bounced off Jupiter and came into your eyeball through a telescope, it felt more truly connected to the man than any artefact I’ve yet seen.  Hit me hard.

Also made me think about the difference between analog and digital, in terms of that very sense of personal involvement and connection to the event.

I am convinced of the powerful utility of digital media – don’t get me wrong – but the analog process remains distinct, for it’s lack of numerical abstraction.

A friend who ran a recording studio for many years put it best.  “When I record vocalists on analog tape they come out of the booth thrilled and triumphant.  But when I record them on digital, I feel like I should have hot cocoa and a blanket ready for them after.  I have to reassure them they can still sing.”

Facebook news seems to be an even more extreme(ly) detached and abstracted way of relaying data than news sites, which were already flakier than old-school journalism (for all it’s unresolved flaws).  Suddenly, I feel like printing physical pamphlets and selling them on the street-corner for physical nickels (while they still exist) just to have evidence of actual human contact!

Which brings me to this – How are we going to move people next – people?

As artists, writers, photographers, designers and brilliant maniacs – if my crazy friends don’t have a few of the clues, the asteroid is even closer than I think.

Brother Martin found a way that required incredible courage from thousands.
But let’s remember he found a way to inspire those thousands too.

Our job now.

I am always curious about what you are thinking

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