ny film scans

NY 9-11 First Anniversay

Color negative film scans from 2012 trip to New York City during the first anniversary of 9-11.

NY 9-11 First Anniversay

NY 9-11 First Anniversay

NY 9-11 First Anniversay

NY 9-11 First Anniversay

NY 9-11 First Anniversay

NY 9-11 First Anniversay

NY 9-11 First Anniversay

NY 9-11 First Anniversay

NY 9-11 First Anniversay

NY 9-11 First Anniversay

NY 9-11 First Anniversay

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McPictures

mcpictureMcPictures. I was thinking about what is the most obvious thing about America as you drive down the highway: McDonald’s. I love the golden arches and the American flag. It’s beautiful corporate culture. Then there is the Shamrock Shake and the Drive THRU. Don’t forget the sign for the McBites. I’m thinking someone ought to put together a McDictionary so that all of the words are beautifully defined.

mcpicture

mcpicture

mcpicture

mcpicture

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cowboys and indians

cowboys and indians

Cowboys and Indians are a large part of the American legend and both cultures are striving to be alive while holding on to a past. These rituals and traditions, although opposing, share many commonalities. In 2005 I photographed a powwow at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of South Dakota. Then in 2010 I had the opportunity to cover the Bull Riding Finals in Arkansas. What interested me was not the spectacle, i.e. what was happening in the main ring, but what was happening behind the scenes – preparatory to and alongside. Here one could see the prayers, contemplations, details and connections.

It wasn’t until much later that I brought the two sets of images together. It was in this juxtaposition that that sought “resonance” and sizzle of energy started to occur. Here two cultures crackled with life. The past came too. Two beautiful cultures side by side and you fill the void. I am not a photographer of cowboys and Indians. I had only this brief opportunity at two similar events.

cowboys and indians

cowboys and indians

cowboys and indians

cowboys and indians

cowboys and indians

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door to door

Robert Castagna Italian blue door

Robert Castagna Italian brown door

Robert Castagna Italian red door

I found myself driving through the south of Italy and veering off the highway when the sun got good. Often I would find a door to my liking. My favorite door is the blue/brown one. It’s the blue and brown together and the age. Everything has age in Italy and the doors are no exception. In Japan we might call this wabi-sabi. The red door is off its hinge and this makes it even better. In fact 10 minutes after I photographed the door a couple of guys drove up and boarded it up! Imagine, the door was probably off its hinge for quite some time. I nicknamed this portion of the trip, “di porta in porta” which is Italian for “from door to door.”

 

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so mondrian

Castagna Mondrian

Castagna Mondrian

Castagna Mondrian

Castagna Mondrian
The untitled photograph chosen for the exhibition RED at the Cambridge Art Association (top above image) is from a series of pictures taken on road trips in the U.S. This particular photograph was taken in the summer of 2011 in a small town of Montana. It is essentially mondrian (used as an adjective). It’s geometric design of straight lines and squares, reds and blues are a throw back to the modernist painter Piet Mondrian. However what makes it photographic is the shadow shape which dominates the vertical, photography being about shadow and light.

When captured it was not preconceived in relation to past works of art. It was instead a distillation of a search. I was searching for “nothingness” in a small town. I wanted to find something in nothing and when I captured this I knew I had found it!

The other 3 images above were taken just this November of 2011 while in Italy. Again I was soooooooo mondrian.

 

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at the gallery

Broom and Shadow by Robert Castagna

Broom and Shadow

 

For a short period of time my large-scale images from The Art Complex Museum solo summer exhibition will be on display at Rolly-Michaux Gallery of Boston. The gallery is located at 290 Dartmouth Street in the Vendome Building, between Newbury Street and Commonwealth Avenue, and is open Tuesday through Saturday 11 to 5.

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museum acquistion

shinto shadows by Robert CastagnaShinto Shadows

Castle Reflection by Robert CastagnaCastle Reflection

I’m very happy to announce that The Art Complex Museum is acquiring Shinto Shadows and Castle Reflection for their permanent museum collection. This large scale photographs were taken in Kyoto Japan and were featured in a solo exhibition there during this past summer. For a short period of time both pieces, along with the other images from the museum show, will be on display at Rolly-Michaux Gallery located at 290 Dartmouth Street in Boston.

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fujifilm instant

fuji instant instax wide

fuji instant film

This is a series of diptychs made with fujifilm instax wide film. I’ve been hauling around my instax 210 camera at times and taking shots along side with my other camera. At times these pictures are more exciting and moving then my other pictures. In this scenario this was definitely the case. The film provides a present-time nostalgia that worked well with the old bridge in Turner Falls Massachusetts.

fujifilm instant

fuji instax

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Insight into an image…

Blossoms on Roof detailDetail of “Blossoms on Roof”

I did an interview recently that came out in the Patriot Ledger today. Since it was a newsprint edition piece I’ve transcribed it here as in the end it provided me with more insight into the above image. The interview was done by Peggy Mullen.

How do you describe the difference between your photography and your visual art? I like to capture a few images that represent an idea that has a theme. I get the biggest joy from being able to install a big series of images in a gallery or a museum.

And the Art Complex exhibit is an example of this? Yes. When I was in Japan I read a lot of haiku, that very short Japanese verse, usually about nature, and I also got into writing it myself. A lot of the photographs emulate that.

At the exhibit, there’s a long list of words besides one of your images. Are the words yours, and did you intend for them to be displayed with the photo? You’ll see lofty words like “inspiration” and words like “cafe” at the bottom. I would go to the cafe and meet people and take photos and write about it. It’s a list of words that are key to putting together the show.

On your website there are a series of photos with words on the images. Are you saying that’s what you felt when you took the photo, or are you instructing the observer what to feel? I like the combination of words and pictures, and if a picture is worth a thousand words, why not express those words? I stuck some of those words into the images. The words are small, and it’s hard to see some of them. I want a person to step back, look at the image and then get up close and examine it and see what else might be hidden there.

A press release from the museum reads “One of Castagna’s favorite techniques is using shallow depth of field to create abstractions.” What does this mean? I think the best image that represents this is “Blossoms on Roof”. What I mean is one of the most creative things you can do with a camera is to determine its depth of field. If you have a good lens, you can decide if you want something sharp or blurred. There I wanted the roof sharp and blossoms blurred. You have opposites, one is man-made and another is natural. It’s a creative tool I use in a lot of my photography.

If I had my druthers, and since this is my blog, I do, I’d add this to my final answer: Nature soft and beautiful, man-made objects real and solid. The roof’s wave and undulating quality suggests a flow moving in and out of nature. Together they weave a complex and interconnected pattern of balance.

 

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Artist Talk

 

Below is an excerpt from an artist talk given at The Art Complex Museum on August 4, 2011

Art Complex Museum

A picture is worth a thousand words. What does that phrase mean?

Up until recent times I thought that it meant words were unnecessary where and when pictures were involved. That the picture was enough. But if a picture is worth a thousand words why not express them?

Keeping an artist journal is one way of expressing the worth.

worth: the quality that makes something desirable, valuable or useful.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Thus far I’ve expressed about 100 words in my artist talk. That’s 1/10th of a picture.

There are 10 pictures in this show. Ten pictures are worth ten thousand words.

Art is expressing worth.

Art could be described as minimum matter with maximum thought.

Words and pictures have always intrigued me. In fact these pictures were inspired by haiku.

A picture is worth a haiku.

A picture is worth a few well chosen words.

You might think that this contradicts the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” However one could say that a haiku is a distillation of a thousand words. Between the lines and pauses of a haiku lie suspended these 1000 words, left out so that you can imagine them yourself.

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