I went out into the desert to photograph Pearblossom Highway  HWY 138. Inspired by the work of David Hockney.


I was interested to see how the location looked some 30 years later. Also to see how he transformed the landscape into the actual art piece. When I arrived at the location, to my disappointment the location had changed tremendously. The highway was widened to four lanes, the stop sign was removed and replaced with a traffic light. The HWY 138 sign was gone and the stop sign ahead was missing.

Originally  it was my intent to make a 180 degree panorama of the location with a set of five polaroids. I also took my Leica Digilux made in 1997/8 to make a few images using old technology. I made the five polaroids using my Fuji 4×5 polaroid camera, but was not happy with the results. The images were too dark and the resolution and color did not serve the image well. It was difficult to see the traffic light color against the back lit sky.

So I decided to experiment with the  Leica Digilux. I was limited by a small smart media card 3MB and 25 images, the battery  of the camera is old and was running down. The winds were about 70MPH and the Temperature was around a 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so conditions were not pleasant, in addition I had driven out 21/2 hours to the desert location.  So, I had to make something out of the experience.

I decided to make a series of five images, and decided to name it a polyptych  instead of pentaptych which is the correct name for five images, because polyptych sounds more fluid and it means many.

Polyptych  Pearblossom HWY138/165E #2.,  Jun 27, Noon. 2018  ©Pierre Chemaly

I decided to leave the date stamp on the image. This was the default of the manufacturers production date. Felt like I was looking at the images back in 1998. I used the color red for the traffic light, same color as old stop sign of David Hockney’s image, also it clashes with the color in nature symbolising the clash between industry and nature. Green was the same as the bushes and yellow blended to much with the sand. I went over to all the vertical poles, sign, light and Joshua tree and set them up side by side. I made a few versions on this image  this one the horizon line is more of less even. In the others I had the centre image larger, more in line with the requirements of the polyptych, and in another version, I had all the verticals in the centre.


Not made by human hands?


Link (Links to an external site.)

Some of these images came to mind. They are ‘photographs’ made from nuclear blasts onto concrete.  Made by humans, is questionable? Indirectly I suppose so. However it was not the primary reason for making the images, they are a byproduct of the radiation blast and discovered after the event. The image you see, is a  photograph of a ‘photograph’ made by radiation.


Think about:

  • The relationship between you and your chosen apparatus.
  • At which point responsibility becomes a consideration in your approach.
  • Whether another photographer can do what you do, and whether you could be more original.
  • How you are not just another “button-pusher”.

The relationship between myself and the apparatus is good. The enjoyment received from holding a camera and making images affords me tremendous joy. Life without the machine would be devastating. Even if it is possible to create without the black box, my work would take on a whole new look. Even though that is not a bad thing, it is not the new, being sought after, at least right now.

Responsibility as an approach is a very general abstract. As far as content goes, in my practice is very responsible, in that the content is not offensive or hurtful to others, or at least not intentionally. Red or line could be offensive to some people, however not one such individual has been met. Can another photographer do what I do. No!  They can copy what is being done but can never be me making the image. Them is them and I is I.

Being a button pusher bothered me for most of my life, however, since beginning the MA,  I have eased up on the word ‘creative’ instead of defining it as a lofty unattainable thing, I have reclassified it into a simple pragmatic term. It has become much more do-able. I tried to fight the impossible and lost! And I am okay with that also. Great being older!  On being a button pusher. Instead of avoiding being a button pusher, I have decided to do the exact opposite for every limitation ever imposed on me, by myself or others.

In your CRJ, write a short summary about:

  • Your experience of the week’s activities and any feedback received.
  • Any reconsiderations to the core methodology of your project.
  • The forms your project / photographs could potentially take moving forward.

This weeks activity was very enjoyable, I went out to HWY 138 to the location where David Hockney made the 1986 collage Pearblossem  Highway. I originally planned to photograph the area with my 4×5 polaroid camera, I did that but was not satisfied with the results and did it again using a very old Leica Digilux camera, the first consumer version they made in 1997/8.

Feedback on the images were positive, as I get deeper into the MA, I am learning to be more open about my practice, and not to be so determined to get a specific outcome work in a specific way, in other words to remain open and see where the river takes me. I am interested to explore HWY138 more. It’s an very interesting corridor than traverses East and West across the California desert. An area that I have enjoyed travelling for a while.

Potentially moving forward, I am considering doing a piece on that highway ‘HWY-138 Start to Finish’ and because I have a great collection of old cameras I am considering doing a series along the highway using all my apparatuses.


Been able to make headway this week. Did my window/mirror test.


It was a lot of fun trying it out. I had given it quite a bit of thought. A few things changed from idea to action.

  1. Location. I originally wanted to go out into the desert to make the images but did not.
  2. I incorporated a few of my paintings into the image (Black,White,Yellow and Red) amazingly they fit perfectly into the  back of the frame.


This week, I will be making a framed looking glass for an idea I have to frame and reflect an image at the some time.

I ordered a  a wooden frame from Amazon, I found it after looking at Home-Depot and Lowes,  both of which were expensive and big and heavy. On Amazon I found a wooden frame, that was light small and inexpensive, that would allow me to walk around with it freely and easily.

Presently looking for a mirror that will either be used as one of the window panes or maybe stuck in the centre of the 4 panes. The idea is to take the frame and mirror and mount it on some kind of stand and take it to various parts of the city, set it up and photograph it and experiment with it to see what kind of images I can obtain by photographing through the window as well as what I will get reflecting back in the mirror.

I will make the device this week and go down to Venice Beach Broadwalk https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fhg8tvyJbAo on the week-end, set it up and make images.  I will start off using my digital camera Canon 7D to start and see what kind of imagery I will get. I may also do some film tests and experiments medium format but this will be at a later date.

So the question that I have to ask is, “what will I hope to gain out of this image making process?”  Instead of answering the question or coming to a conclusion abstractly, I am going to take Gary’s advice and actively discover and experiment in the concrete sense, instead of  intellectually. I have some ideas obviously,  however I am going to do the photo-shoot and see what comes up by chance, accident, chaotically and abstractly, and see if I more pleased with the mental or physical outcome of the act. I also would like to see if I can come up with some order, pattern, visual story, theme, post facto, instead of per-facto

Excited for the frame to arrive, and go and make some images.



Window: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01FGG3298/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Venice beach image: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fhg8tvyJbAo



Think about:

  • Whether you embrace inherent collaboration in your work or whether you consciously resist it.
  • How you are learning from your subjects / collaborators / participants / respondents, or helping them, or both.
  • How you might be taking advantage of your subjects / collaborators / participants / respondents.
  • Any other ethical concerns you may have.

In your CRJ, write a short summary about:

  • Your experience of the week’s activities and any feedback received from peers and tutors.
  • Any reconsiderations to the core methodology of your project.
  • The forms your project / photographs could potentially take moving forward.

I find collaboration in my work to be difficult and I have a tendency to resist it, so as part of overcoming this trait, I am going to make an effort to collaborate more.

Feedback from Gary has been very good. In that I have to move forward and experiment more with my work as apposed to being stuck in the theory of it.

Now that I have been introduced to re-photogrphy, repeat photography, appropriation and the re-use of images. I am starting to see that making images can result in a myriad of ways and need not necessarily be reliant on re-inventing the wheel. That modification of things past can aid one in making images with a new form.

Moving forward with with my photography, I am going to employ some of these strategies in my work, particularly mirrors and windows and play around and experiment more in this arena, put away the thoughts I have of appropriation and re/repeat photography or other strategies as being plagiaristic old been done before attitude, and see if I experiment and play around with it if I can come up with something different. Maybe cut down on always attempting to make something ‘New’ and replace it with something ‘different.’

Activity: Making a Zine.

Having a difficult time communicating. Not getting emails with what’s to be done. Great resistance on my part, but making the effort to forge through it and get the activity done.

I did not get an e-mail from the group, or should I say I did not receive an email with directions from the zine group. Asked for another email, and even though it was sent did not receive it. So, I missed out in being involved in the zine project.


This week’s webinar was very enjoyable. I saw the street work of another student and the contrast of people who live well vs those on the street and the question why this is so?

As far as my own work goes, I presented Gary with my ideas for my portfolio for this module. (Window and Mirror) a device I am in the process of constructing that I will enable me to photograph through and look back at the same time.

Gary suggested that I get going on the device and the photography.  Not getting too hung up on theory.   Experiment and make the device without delay. He also did not suggest any reading material, to stop me from getting too bogged down with theory and concentrating of the action and experimentation stage of my practice.

He mentioned something about next weeks work and how its going to relate to what I was talking about. I mentioned that I have been having creative experiences where I talk or think about something creative and later it appears as an article, or in some ways relates to what I had in mind. This is what Jung referred to as ‘Synchronicity’ I am interested to see what week 4 will bring?

I am enjoying the course very much, but am still finding it very challenging in trying to put all the work into context with my practice. I’m working on my blog to get it more orderly in the categories. I will improve as I go, as opposed to going back and fixing past problems. The reason for this is I want to see my own progress change from confusion to getting a better understanding of the categorisation of the course.


This week been thinking more about my final project and how I can incorporate variations of rephotography/repeatphotography into the FMP and how I can come up with a series of images that have a theme or consistency to them as opposed to being a one-off. However, I am more interested in a window/mirror approach, and have some ideas in that arena which I am going to explore.


This week I looked at the work of Barbara Kasten. She is a contemporary studio artist who lives and works in Chicago. I saw a documentary on her life and work. What I liked was the definition of herself as an artist and why she is an artist.  She defined it as: Because she likes making things, likes to express herself and making a mark that was her own.

I liked the fact that she brought up the subject of belief and believing what’s inside of yourself. This is a great challenge believing that what you are doing has value, not only in the fiscal sense but in the creative sense. That what you are doing will be appreciated by others.

Barbara Kasten: Collision 6E.

She came from a very ordinary non creative background, her father was a policeman and her mother a sales clerk. She was influenced by the Bauhaus Movement and particularly by Laszlo Maholy Nagy.

My response to her work is mixed. Even thought I like her work I feel it is too close to Maholy’s work in form and content. Can I learn anything from her? Yes, she’s doing it! She has her shows and exhibitions and is established as an artist. Also that she ‘makes’ images in front of the camera.  I do not use the word ‘create’ I use made, because they are transformed from one thing into another. The synthesis of camera, film, light,filters and plexiglass (all already exist)

I think that making is the closest a human can come to creating.  True creating, is bringing into being, or forming something out of nothing. As a mere mortal, for me that is not possible.

Laszlo Moholy Nagy: “Composition Z VIII” (1924)


Art21 – Art in the 21st Century – Amazon Prime. PBS.





Appropriation and Re-mixing as a strategy for making art.

Appropriation in art is the use of pre-existing objects or images with little or no transformation applied to them. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appropriation_(art)

Re-mixing. A remix is a piece of media which has been altered from its original state by adding, removing, and/or changing pieces of the item. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remix

I have been quite upset this week with appropriation and remixing. I suppose it strikes a chord somewhere in my own work where I have felt nothing more than a bad copy of everything I have read, studied, seen or experienced. Particularly of photographers and artists who’s work I have studied and enjoyed.

In reality and actuality, I am attaining the conclusion that my life and work are, at best, appropriations and remixes of those who have already made the journey.  I have spent decades attempting to be ‘original’ however, once again, Divine writings come to mind especially the quote. “Nothing in the world is new. Everything that is, was already and everything that is to come, was already.”

I have always regarded myself as a mere transformer, not a creator, because I do not form or make something out of nothing.  I merely transform everything I make from something else, be it using a camera, film, chemicals, paint, or metal . . . The list goes on and on. I’m not even sure if my ideas are original. Are they merely based on what I have seen, heard or experienced?

No matter how hard I have thought about it, I cannot get past the point of being a transformer, maybe that’s the best I will ever be. However, this does not stop me from being the most transformative appropriator or remixer, should I choose to embrace them?  Maybe I have no choice?  I say ‘maybe’ because in my mind, there are no absolutes.


Think about:

  • What approaches were of most relevance to your practice.
  • Where your original contribution may be, especially if all mediation can be considered remediation.
  • How authorship might differ from intent.
  • What constructive approaches could be taken if someone remixed your work.

In your CRJ, write a short summary about:

  • What you did during the week, feedback received and how you will respond to that.
  • Any reconsiderations to the core methodology of your practice.
  • The forms your project / photographs could take moving forward.

This week I’m still playing catchup, it’s Friday, week 2 and I’m still attempting to complete this weeks work.  I will be going down to a local museum that has old photographs of the area in the 30’s. I’m going to re-photograph the location of an old hotel that was up here in the 30’s and see if I can find the ridge line.

Im am considering experimenting with appropriations and remixing, I feel that I have to embrace that which I have at least thought about avoiding in my work, but which I have not been able to do in actuality.

The more I think about it, it seems impossible to avoid photographing anything that does not belong to another. Even if I photograph an egg, it belongs to some chicken somewhere. So, just because I cannot locate that chicken, speak chicken, or ask that chicken for permission, does it give me permission to use her egg? In actuality it does not. I’m using someone else’s property for my gain and not for it’s intended use.   I’m having some fun here, but I am sure the point is made.

Moving forward, the question is: To appropriate or not to appropriate. I’m more confused than ever.

I went to the museum and obtained photographs of the Lebec Hotel built in 1921 and a Gas station that was moved up to the area in 1950. I made images of the hotel and the gas station.  Finding exact spot where original image was made is quite the challenge in numerous ways from a position and focal length, film format and accessibility standpoint.

Lebec Hotel, Lebec CA. 1930’s
Lebec Hotel site June 2018 © Pierre Chemaly


Hancock Gas Station 1950’s


Hancock Gas Station site today June 2018 © Pierre Chemaly

As can be seen by the above two sets, in re-photography of the images some 90 and 70 years later respectively, there is substantial change in the content of the image. Also in the case of the Lebec Hotel location, there has been major changes in the ridge line and land formations, due to tree growth and land collapse. However some of the ridge line on the left and land formations of the right are still recognisable.

Thinking about methodology in my practice. The more  look at other people works, the more I see remixing and appropriation, sometimes I wonder if there is anything original anymore, then maybe I should approach  the ghost directly, and use some appropriation and re-mixing in my own work? Maybe that’s how others do it….steal under a nice name. Appropriate!




















Continue reading Week_2_Coursework_Reflections.


This week I finally completed PH39 (Photoshop class) at Santa Monica College. It’s an evening class that I have been attending, so that I am a little more familiar with it and able to use in my FMP.

Photoshop has it’s place, but quite honestly, it’s reached a point where is is impossible to tell real from not real or digital lying, as it is sometimes referred to.

With compositing, warping, liquifying and replacing any part of an image, I feel that that art of photography has made a shift from the photographer to the photo-shopper.

I can already see the work of the photographer changing from a skilled image maker to an ‘anything will do’ person, who’s work can be fixed in post, aka – photoshop.

Maybe it’s the sign of the times, or just my preferred way of practicing, but I prefer making the image in camera with minimal manipulation of the image in post.

I soon learned that digital lying is not new, it had already begun with Ansel Adams, who dodged, burned and manipulated the image except it was called analogue lying, over a half a century ago. Also known as image manipulation, a tamer more acceptable term for what it really is.