Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Underwater Yeti, The Unknown Photographer, and The New Porn

The Yet Crab in all its glory
1. Say Hello to "Mr. Blobby"

Nearly three-quarters of the Earth is covered by water, as scuba diver Mike Nelson used to say at the end of each Sea Hunt episode, and we keep finding surprises down there, which is good for people who like to watch. Like me. The creature in the tack-sharp photo above is a Yeti Crab, found in a thermal vent about 1.5 miles below the surface of the sea near Easter Island. The Yeti Crab was one of 6,000 species discovered over the course of a 10-year international marine census that involved 2,700 scientists from 80 countries. Science, which often shows us what we can't see in our everyday lives, is a constant source of wondrous imagery. You'll agree that only a few can rock the white fur coat like this. Now consider the thing you see below.

The Fathead Sculpin fish
This is the Fathead Sculpin fish, or at least an example of the species that has been kept in a jar since its discovery near New Zealand in 2003. The deflation the specimen has suffered since then has left it in a state that tests our anthropomorphic urges. It has been affectionately nicknamed "Mr. Blobby" by researchers, though you might find it rather cute.

2. Who Shot the Magazine Cover of the Year?

You may well ask. The American Society of Magazine Editors named the winner of its "Magazine Cover of the Year" award yesterday, without naming the photographer who took it. Its a typical oversight from the organization, which celebrates the creative genius of editors and publishers while ignoring the paid help who actually create. (Just a photo credit in the press release would have sufficed, for goodness sake.)

The December 2009 cover, shot by Mark Seliger
 The winning cover, above, was from the December 2009 issue of Harper's Bazaar, and if you were to search the web long enough or if you had your own back issue you could find out that it was taken by the great Mark Seliger, best known for his celebrity portraits. His winning image—a beautiful shot of "Twilight" stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson—undoubtedly captured the hearts and minds of cultish"Twilight" fans, who voted for the cover on, which hosted the contest. (Here's a list of ASME's top magazine covers of the last 40 years, by the way, chosen by editors rather than Amazon devotees.)

3. Jacques Treatment

Last Sunday's New York Times ran a piece in its "Style" section about photographer Jonthan Leder, the creator of Jacques, which the Times described as "an upstart adult magazine in Brooklyn that reinterprets vintage Playboy in the age of 3D and GPS hookups."

The Times pointed out that to recapture the ambiance of pinup photography from back in the day, Leder shoots not digitally but on film. And it noted that Jacques magazine is part of a mini-trend of arty-erotica that includes Richardson, S Magazine, and Butt (it was worth buying the whole Sunday paper just to see the title Butt in the Times), but it could only show a very carefully displayed display of Jacques covers, which feature nudity. I have vowed to keep this blog free of porn, so I went to the Jacques blog and found the recent cover you see here.

Will Jacques make her a star?
From what I can see, Leder's imagery owes more to the likes of Richard Kern than to early Playboy; but if there isn't much new to the work, there is a sense of experimentation and, remarkably, a feeling of warmth and collaboration between photographer and models. Everybody here is in on the joke, as you can tell from this shot of Leder and model, made for the Times by Robert Wright. I've got to go now to buy a pair of those sunglasses.

Leder and model by Robert Wright

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