Minimalist and modern-sounding, Man Ray is the sort of name that seems as if it should be outlined in buzzing neon. Born Emmanuel Radnitzky in Philadelphia on August 27, 1890, the photographer and visual artist shortened his nickname, “Manny,” to Man, and after 1912 went by a less Jewish-sounding version of his surname in response to the anti-Semitism of the times.
It was an inspired choice. Man Ray sounds like a shaft of light in human form—a radiant man. “I have freed myself from the sticky medium of paint and am working directly with light itself,” the frustrated painter exulted, after discovering the technique that enabled him to produce Rayographs, as he called them—spooky, one-of-a-kind images created by placing objects on light-sensitive paper and exposing them to light, producing white silhouettes that glow eerily against a black background, like ectoplasmic manifestations in a Spiritualist photograph. “Everything can be transformed, deformed, and obliterated by light,” he said. “Its flexibility is precisely the same as the suppleness of the brush.”
Ray’s work is collected in a new book, Man Ray (part of Taschen’s Photo Masters series). A fellow traveler of the Dadaists and Surrealists, Ray (1890-1976) pioneered unconventional techniques that, married to his visual wit, evoke hidden realities. “By assembling a vocabulary of seldom-used darkroom techniques, he freed photography from its reputation for recording the observable world and used it to create images drawn from the imagination,” writes Katherine Ware in her essay “Chemist of Mysteries,” included in the book. In his alien still lives, Calla lilies give off a radioactive glow (a special effect produced by solarization, in which a print or a negative is exposed during its development, causing some darks to appear light, some lights to appear dark). He had an offhanded brilliance when it came to titles. An eggbeater, lit so it casts a shadow and photographed from an awkward angle, takes on a life of its own, especially when titled La Femme (“The Woman”). In “Le Violon d’Ingres” (“The Violin of Ingres”), a pair of f-holes, painted onto a photo of a naked woman with her back to us, turns a run-of-the-mill nude into a sly, Duchampian pun. But it’s his Rayographs of everyday detritus—bottles, combs, toy guns—that open the door to another world. Surrealist X-rays, they expose the unconscious lives of inanimate objects.
I’m making the final(ish*) stop of my Walkaway tour at Defcon this weekend in Las Vegas, giving a speech on Saturday in Track 2 at 10AM called $BIGNUM steps forward, $TRUMPNUM steps back: how can we tell if we’re winning?, followed by a book-signing at the No Starch Press table in the exhibitors’ hall.
David Luke, a University of Greenwich psychology lecturer and researcher of high weirdness, has a new book out with the compelling title of Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience. Based on the blurb, it sounds like an absolute trip: A psychonautic scientific trip to the weirdest outposts of the psychedelic terrain, inhaling anything and everything […]
In Paper Girls, the celebrated comics creator Brian K Vaughan (Saga, Y: The Last Man, etc) teams up with Cliff Chiang to tell a story that’s like an all-girl Stranger Things, with time-travel.
If you often find yourself far away from AC power, or just want to guarantee that you’ll have GPS access on your next camping trip, the SolarJuice External Solar Battery is an excellent companion for outdoor adventures. It’s currently available in the Boing Boing Store for $59.99.The SolarJuice has a 26,800 mAh battery capable of […]
Between election hacks, ransomware, and Devil’s Ivy, the cybersecurity space is booming as malware and hackers become more sophisticated. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in ethical hacking, or just want to secure your own devices, The Super-Sized Ethical Hacking Bundle is a great resource.In this bundle, you’ll learn the fundamental skills of ethical hacking, prepare […]
The TREBLAB X11 Earphones are versatile, offer great sound, and are currently $32.99 in the Boing Boing Store.These Bluetooth earbuds are a great workout companion. They’re totally sweat proof and their ear-fins keep them snugly in place during high activity — something that Apple’s AirPods can only do if you were blessed with precisely the […]