Richard Benson 1943-2017

Thinking About Richard Benson


“We’re full of hocus-pocus.”

Well, that was a refreshing interlude.

There are ‘way too many gems in this to extract, so just go ahead and watch the entire video (or start at around 10:00) of an interview with Lee Friedlander earlier this week.

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On another extremely sobering note, Richard Benson has died interim.

Risk, made visible.



Ken Vandermark: Creative Process and Work Ethic

“Time will be spent today transcribing material to rehearse Friday with Marker, three new pieces and a rewrite of ‘M1,’ which will bring the book of material to eight compositions in total (each piece belongs to a subset: Melodic, Tableaux, Game; all components are designed to be edited cinematically: cross-cuts, jump cuts, depth of field, fades, flash backs and forward, parallel action, montage). The initial rehearsal process, which was not possible with the complete group and focused on a ‘scratch piece’ to test ideas, helped me understand that my first aesthetic conception for Marker was too close to a combination of the compositional ideas created for ‘Made To Break’ and my contributions to ‘Shelter.’

“When the full ensemble got together in December (with Andrew Clinkman, Steve Marquette, Macie Stewart, and Phil Sudderberg), I had formalized a new approach to the writing, described above, which quickly resulted in six compositions. That rehearsal process showed the flaws in ‘M1,’ which I rearranged for the sessions coming up to prepare for the band’s concert on Saturday, January 21st, at Elastic, for Tim Daisy’s ‘Hit The Ground Running’ fundraiser for Planned Parenthood. I love the process of rehearsing for this very reason- the acceleration of understanding and development of the music. When applied in conjunction to a regular performing schedule the amount that can be accomplished in a short amount is extraordinary.”


(Reproduced here by kind permission.)

Q. o’ th’ D.: Geoff Dyer


“Without Walker Evans to remind them of how things once were, swaths of America would not know that there was more to their ancestral world than Bed Bath & Beyond.”

William Christenberry, 11/5/1936 – 11/28/2016

“My home country just always seemed to me to be a part of my being. Living away from it has given me a perspective I don’t think I would have had I stayed there. It’s not nostalgia; I’m not interested in that. You can wallow in nostalgia, you know—just immerse yourself and flop around in it. That won’t get you anywhere. But strong sentiment, though, I think is different. My dear mother would always say, every summer, ‘Why don’t you photograph those beautiful southern mansions, son? Lord, that landscape is full of them.’ And I would see them, but nothing really thrilled me to death. What is interesting is how time, the elements, and people—how all these things change. A line written by Emily Dickinson expresses what I feel about change and how we remember it, or not remember it. ‘Memory is a strange bell, jubilee and knell.’ That quote was in one of her letters to a dear friend. She lived a very reclusive life in Amherst, Massachusetts, but she knew about the world.”

Alert: E-6, Reborn! (It’s “Iconic!”)

Here’s how Richard Benson saw it, about ten years ago:

“The huge amateur market that consumed 35mm slides has always been a mystery to me. Why did all those people make all those pictures? (Italics mine)… At least with an album of prints we can take the book off the shelf, easily leaf through it a bit, and then put it away again. The slide requires a projector, a dark room, and almost invariably other people, who have been gathered together to participate in the viewing of someone else’s visual history… These little photographic artifacts were only produced for about sixty years… There are literally hundreds of millions of slides getting moldy, being thrown out, and simply being forgotten until a younger generation finds them while cleaning out the old family home. By that time there will be no projectors left, so those too will most likely be discarded. The circumstances of their form will lead to the disappearance—unseen—of a huge portion of photographic history.”

Yes, yes. We know its limitations, and also its allure. I’ll probably buy some and shoot it.