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Hong Kong: fashion walk, urban grunge

Posted by Chris Wray on Mar 8, 2011 in architecture and urban spaces, commentary

The first thing that strikes you about Hong Kong is a city of stark contrasts. Gleaming skyscrapers adjacent to squalid tenements; Maserati’s weaving around ramshackle bicycles; the super-rich living along side poverty-stricken residents. Hong Kong’s income gap is the most pronounced in all of Asia, with the middle class only making up about 7% of the population. Sights like the one below are quite common. This mid-rise building complex consists of government subsidized apartments directly above trendy clothing shops replete in shiny chrome, glass and marble walls. It was an odd sensation to experience the Madison Avenue feel when strolling along Hong Kong’s Fashion Walk, while at the same time you see the crumbling, urban decay of the apartments above. Despite this dichotomy, Hong Kong is a remarkably harmonious place and I found the people to be friendly and outgoing. Stay tuned for more of my travel photo diary. Next stop: the famous Victoria Peak and harbor skyline.

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Time revisited: series one

Posted by Chris Wray on Aug 31, 2009 in art, essays

In graduate school, I developed a series of essays and visual investigations on the concept of time. I thought it might be interesting to offer the following excerpts to my blog followers for your reflection and comment. At the risk of dating myself, nearly all my meaningful grad school work was done at the cusp of the digital revolution. High performance Mac desktops (remember the Mac II?) had just begun making their way into the graphic design scene. 3-D design software on the Mac platform was rudimentary at best, so I spent most of my creative hours building dimensional models in paper, foam-core and wire. I then photographed the models using an SLR 35mm camera with Ektachrome film (the significance of using Ektachrome slide film will be discussed in my next blog post).

My initial studies began with readings about the historical and cultural meanings of time. My body of work concluded with a more personal interpretation: time as a creative process and catalyst for growth.

Series One: Eastern and Western interpretations

I found the Eastern concept of time to be poetic and holistic. For example, the Chinese word for universe, (yǔzhòu), consists of compound characters that literally mean space-time. Chinese philosophers viewed the passage of time from eternity to present as zhòu and space in all directions, above and below as .

Read more…

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Three pioneers in American photography

Posted by Chris Wray on Jul 13, 2009 in art

The three photographers Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, and Frederick Sommer irrevocably charted a new course in photography during the mid-twentieth century. Collectively, these photographers pushed classical photography beyond its traditional representational boundaries to one of pure abstraction and metaphor. I had the pleasure of recently seeing At the Crossroads of American Photography: Callahan, Siskind, Sommer, a featured exhibition at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA). According to SMoCA, this is the first full comparative exhibition of these three pioneers. All self-taught, Callahan, Siskind, and Sommer elevated photography to fine art, using seminal techniques and creative compositions to achieve remarkably fine art.

Paracelsus, © Frederick and Frances Sommer Foundation

Paracelsus, © Frederick and Frances Sommer Foundation

I found the exhibition, consisting of some 150 high quality prints, to be an intimate and meditative experience. While many of the works I had seen reproduced in art history books, several were heretofore unseen; on loan from private collections. A favorite work of my wife and mine is entitled Paracelsus. This gelatin silver print was created without a camera, using a synthetic negative. Listen to a detailed audio description of Paracelsus from the Norton Simon Museum.

At the Crossroads of American Photography: Callahan, Siskind, Sommer had been held over through August 9, 2009. If you’re in the Scottsdale area, this show is well worth the price of admission. A large format catalogue of beautiful reproductions is available from the SMoCA Store.

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