2016 in Review: Our Favorite Moments of Year 4

2016 has been a year of growth and learning for the Creative Market community. Every year, our mission has remained the same—become a platform that empowers designers to pursue their passion. In the past year, we opened 6,500 new independent shops, added 620,000 unique products, and grew our amazing community to 2,600,000 members. Head over to our 2016 Year In Review to see the special moments that made 2016 our best year yet.

Share Your Best Creative Market Moment in 2016

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who helped make our fourth year so amazing. Your hard work, creativity, and generosity inspired us to thrive last year and we can’t wait to show you what we have in store for 2017. Leave a comment below and tell us about your year with Creative Market. We want to know and can’t wait to read about it!


How to Get Your First Sale in 10 Days

Being a graphic designer and entrepreneur means you’ll likely want to sell your creations at some point in your career. That means you’re going to delve into e-commerce and essentially create your own website or open up an online shop in a marketplace—like the one we have here at Creative Market—to sell your products.

First-timers will probably be a bit unsure and perhaps even somewhat intimidated about learning how to make e-commerce work for them. If only things were as straightforward as opening up a shop or having your own website…and then watching as both traffic and leads just roll in!

In spite of these challenges, there are many easy strategies you can employ to get your first sale in just 10 days. While it may take a while to get to the level of huge success—like our Nicky Laatz, who recently cleared $1 million USD in online selling—it’s totally doable to get your first sale in a short period of time!

The Drawing Power of SEO

Search engine optimization is old-school, but it’s still one of the most important essentials of successfully selling online. It’s how your site or online marketplace profile surfaces to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) for your given keyword. The more people see your result at the top of a SERP, the more likely they are to click on it, and boom! That’s where your organic traffic comes from in the form of leads and visitors.

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First, you’ll want to use a great keyword research tool like the Google Keyword Planner or the Moz Keyword Explorer to search for the keyword that’s appropriate for what you want to sell, which is generally a high-volume and low-competition one. For instance, if you’re selling high-quality brochures, you’ll want to use these keyword tools to search not only for “brochures,” but also various derivatives (creative brochures, brochure templates, etc.), which result in long-tail keywords and give you more options to be ranked higher in search.

Once you’ve found the keyword or keywords that show good search demand, it’s time to incorporate them into your site to increase the chances of people finding you in organic search.

That means doing the following:

  • Placing your keyword(s) all over your site, from the webpage copy and blog posts to the homepage (but don’t keyword-stuff!)
  • Including your keyword(s) in how you name the images on your site
  • Incorporating the keyword(s) into your site’s design, in everything from its meta descriptions and H1, H2 and H3 tags to its URL and internal links

The Reach of Social Media

A sizable problem you face when you just open up shop is not having a stream of customers. That’s easily solved by going to where they are, which, in the 21st century, is often times on social media. According to Business News Daily, in today’s world, social media is the amazing equalizer when it comes to lead generation for small businesses.

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Selling from an online shop or site makes you a small business, whether you’re a solopreneur or have a team working with you. Therefore, leveraging the wide reach of social media can go a long way toward helping you get that first sale in the first 10 days after you open your virtual doors.

Social media is a great awareness builder for people selling online. A constantly updating and well-curated Facebook business page, for example, helps prospective customers find out about you and tells them that you’re always busy, engaging and creating new products. That builds strong awareness over time.

On Facebook, you can:

  • Post to your business page once a day, sharing helpful info or a link
  • Share a part of your business story once in a while to build a narrative
  • Engage your followers by asking the questions or even asking them to fill out a survey

On very image-heavy social networks like Instagram and Pinterest, you can:

  • Get your followers excited about your products by showing them off on your channel (whether that’s a clothing line, jewelry, or digital assets)
  • Use the ability, on Pinterest at least, to showcase various product categories by using different boards
  • Go above and beyond by briefly explaining how to use your product, not just sharing visuals

When you’re regularly active on social media, you get a traffic boost to your site, as a fraction of the people checking out your social pages will inevitably click on your site’s or shop’s URL that you’ve featured on your page.

The Ingenuity of Google Shopping

Sometimes, the direct approach works best. If you’re just starting out and struggling to have people find out about your online shop or store, then maybe it’s time to put your actual products in front of them when they’re searching Google for the types of products you’re selling.

Meet Google Shopping. Think of it as the be all and end all comparison shopping engine. Simply submit your products to Google, and the search engine will show your shop’s or store’s inventory to people doing a search for your type of product! Sounds like the perfect combination of demand and supply.

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You do have to pay for Google Shopping, as it’s integrated with Google AdWords to allow you to create an ad campaign online. After you establish your merchant account, you upload the products you’re selling with a data feed to Google. Then, you’re ready to start taking out your first ads that will show your products to people doing relevant searches.

Sweetening the deal is that your products will be shown to potential customers across all devices. This is crucial since a lot of people today use mobile in shopping: 45% of all ecommerce involves the use of mobile, whether that’s actually shopping or just doing research and comparison shopping.

This is an easy way to get a lot of exposure and help your online shop or store close its first sale very soon after you open.

The Steadfast Reliability of Email Marketing

The ROI (return on investment) of email marketing is the most effective, according to a survey of global marketers cited by Forbes. So it’s virtually a no-brainer to start an email newsletter where you showcase your products to people who’ve visited your store without making a purchase.

Of course, that begs the question, how do you get email addresses in the first place because you need an email list for this to work? There are numerous ways that you can handily capture visitors’ and potential customers’ email addresses, so they voluntarily hand it over without any pressure. The last thing you want it so spam people with unwanted emails about your products!

Getting the first few email addresses for your list can be as easy as installing a lead-capture form or even a lead-capture bar (for more outside-the-box creativity) on your store’s homepage.

The form should be above the fold and include very few fields, usually two fields just for the person’s email address and name is more than sufficient if you make it clear that, in return for giving up their email address, they’ll get personalized and relevant product recommendations based on their interests. There are various plugins for forms, such as this WP Email Capture plugin.

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Another option would be the aforementioned lead-capture bar, which spans the entire horizontal width of your homepage and asks for visitors’ email addresses. The famous Hello Bar is a shining example of this. With the Hello Bar, you’re banking on the fact that an entire bar is more noticeable and therefore more effective than a form, which usually occupies just a part of the page.

Using a lead generator can also bear fruit. On your site, you can display a pop-up form or window that promises a 5% or more discount on one of your products when a visitor gives you his email address in return.

The best thing to do would be to experiment with all of these ways of getting email addresses to see which one does end up snagging more addresses for you.

You Don’t Need to Wait Forever

One of the most stressful aspects of selling online is the nail-biting experience of waiting for your first sale to go through. After all, you’ve built up your online shop or site, have taken the time to create various products, and are looking forward to being an entrepreneur. Depending on the actions you take when your shop or site is live, you can greatly increase how long it takes before you see your first sale.

Instead of getting easily discouraged, work on the marketing aspect of running a successful online business. All of the tactics discussed here are proven ways to make people on the web find your shop or site, bring traffic to it, and then convert.

For too many online sellers, discouragement can set in pretty quickly when that first sale doesn’t come through in a certain period of time, which is too bad. However, with these approaches to promoting your products, you’ll get your first sale drastically faster than ever before!

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List of All Available NYCTaper Recordings – 2016 Posts

Welcome to our annual list of all the recordings we’ve posted in a given calendar year. This should give our readers a chance to check back and grab some shows you may have missed. Please don’t take this as an invitation to download massive quantities of recordings. If I find someone downloading 10 or 20 shows at once, I’ll block your IP address.

All 2007 Recordings Listed [HERE]
Part 1 of 2008 Recordings (January through June 13) Listed [HERE]
Part 2 of 2008 Recordings (June 13 through July 31) Listed [HERE]
Part 3 of 2008 Recordings (July 31 through December 31) Listed [HERE]

All 2009 Recordings Listed [HERE]
All 2010 Recordings Listed [HERE]
All 2011 Recordings Listed [HERE]
All 2012 Recordings Listed [HERE]
All 2013 Recordings Listed [HERE]
All 2014 Recordings Listed [HERE]
All 2015 Recordings Listed [HERE]

Alphabetical List of All Available Recordings at NYCTAPER.COM
(Click on Title for location):
Posted in 2016 (167 Recordings):

A Giant Dog: September 8, 2016 Hopscotch Music Festival
Acid Mothers Temple: April 5, 2016 Mercury Lounge
Acid Mothers Temple: April 6, 2016 Knitting Factory
AJJ: November 6, 2016 Warsaw BK
Al Riggs: September 9, 2016 Hopscotch Music Festival
Alan Licht: January 6, 2016 Union Pool
Alan Licht: March 4, 2016 Saint Vitus
Alex Bleeker & the Freaks “Play Dead”: December 30, 2015 Rough Trade NYC
Ancient Ocean: March 29, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Animal Collective: February 24, 2016 Irving Plaza
Animal Collective: November 2, 2016 Terminal 5
Antietam: January 30, 2016 Union Hall
B Boys: January 28, 2016 Alphaville
Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk: January 9, 2016 Palisades
Bachman-Toth Band: September 9, 2016 Three Lobed/WXDU Day Show
Bambara: February 25, 2016 Palisades
Barbara Manning: July 3, 2016 Union Hall
Bardo Pond: March 26, 2016 Three Lobed Sweet Sixteen Spectacular
Bardo Pond: November 18, 2016 Union Pool
Bear vs Shark: September 28, 2016 Market Hotel
Beech Creeps: June 10, 2016 Union Pool
Big Ups: July 16, 2016 Out In the Streets Festival
Big Ups: September 13, 2016 Baby’s All Right
Bill Nace: September 9, 2016 Three Lobed / WXDU Day Show
Body / Full of Hell: September 9, 2016 Market Hotel
Bohannon/Dusenbury/Fox: March 30, 2016 Market Hotel
Cass McCombs: January 7, 2016 Bowery Ballroom
Chris Forsyth x Nick Millevoi Duo: November 13, 2015 Trans-Pecos
Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band: March 19, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band: May 28, 2016 Union Pool
Chris Forsyth & Loren Connors: August 10, 2016 Secret Project Robot
Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band: December 3, 2016 Union Pool
Chuck Johnson: March 24, 2016 Union Pool
Chuck Johnson Band: March 26, 2016 Three Lobed Sweet 16 Spectacular
Chuck Johnson: March 29, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Cian Nugent: March 9, 2016 Union Pool
Colin Fisher, Mike Pride, Carl Testa Trio: August 10, 2016 Secret Project Robot
Courtesy Tier: March 30, 2016 Trans-Pecos
craw: March 12, 2016 Saint Vitus
Creepoid: January 14, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Dan Friel: January 9 2016 Palisades
Dan Friel: March 6, 2016 Palisades
Daniel Bachman: November 22, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Dead and Company: July 3, 2016 Boulder CO
Dead C: September 20, 2016 First Unitarian Congregational Society
Dead Meadow: May 13, 2016 Saint Vitus
Dinosaur Jr.: August 5, 2016 Rough Trade NYC
Disappears: February 20, 2016 Baby’s All Right (including Bowie’s “Low”)
Downtown Boys: June 24, 2016 Market Hotel
Dungen: June 17, 2016 Bowery Ballroom
Earthless: March 18, 2016 Mercury Lounge
Eleven Twenty Nine: July 23, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Enemy Waves: March 26, 2016 Three Lobed Sweet Sixteen Spectacular
Faust: March 30, 2016 Market Hotel
Freakwater: February 16, 2016 Bell House
Girls Against Boys: September 13, 2016 Baby’s All Right
Girls Against Boys: November 3, 2016 Saint Vitus
Gotobeds: June 11, 2016 Union Pool
Govt Mule: June 3, 2016 Mountain Jam
Guerilla Toss: July 16, 2016 Out In The Streets Festival
Guerilla Toss: July 30, 2016 Secret Project Robot
Gunn-Truscinski Duo: March 26, 2016 Three Lobed Sweet Sixteen Spectacular
Hans Chew: July 23, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Heartless Bastards: May 10, 2016 Music Hall of Williamsburg
Herbcraft: December 12, 2015 Trans-Pecos
Herbcraft: November 13, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Heroes of Toolik: January 30, 2016 Union Hall
Heron Oblivion: May 28, 2016 Union Pool
Hiss Golden Messenger – November 15, 2016 Music Hall of Williamsburg
Holly Miranda: December 18, 2015 Bowery Ballroom
Holy Tunics: December 11, 2016 Sunnyvale
Horse Lords: July 23, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Infinity Girl: January 16, 2016 Muchmore’s
James Jackson Toth & William Fowler Collins: October 5, 2016 Park Church Co-op
Jason Isbell: June 3, 2016 Mountain Jam
JEFF The Brotherhood: September 27, 2016 Market Hotel
Joan of Arc: October 7, 2016 Knitting Factory
Jon Langford and Jean Cook: February 13, 2016 Brooklyn House Party
Journalism: May 21, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Kohoutek: May 13, 2016 Saint Vitus
Lambchop: September 8, 2016 Hopscotch Music Festival
Lawrence: December 5, 2015 Mercury Lounge
Lee Ranaldo: March 29, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Long Ryders: November 10, 2016 Bowery Ballroom
Luna: October 6, 2015 930 Club Washington DC
Luna: May 4, 2016 Granada Theater Dallas TX
Luna: September 29, 2016 Alexandria VA
Luna: October 1, 2016 Rough Trade
LVL UP: September 24, 2016 Market Hotel
MAKE: September 9, 2016 Hopscotch Music Festival
MANAS: September 9, 2016 Three Lobed / WXDU Day Show
Mary Lattimore and Dave Mies: February 7, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Matchess: June 10, 2016 Union Pool
Matthew Shipp and Bobby Kapp: September 17, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Matt Valentine: February 7, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Matt Valentine: August 14, 2016 Union Pool
Martin Courtney: February 13, 2016 Baby’s All Right
Mind Over Mirrors: March 17, 2016 Littlefield
Mothers: January 29, 2016 Palisades
Mountain Goats: April 2, 2016 College Street Music Hall, New Haven CT
Mountain Goats: April 17, 2016 City Winery
Mountain Goats: April 18, 2016 City Winery
Mountain Goats: April 19, 2016 City Winery
MV & EE: November 13, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Nap Eyes: March 9, 2016 Union Pool
Nathan Bowles: March 26, 2016 Three Lobed Sweet Sixteen Spectacular
Nick Millevoi’s Desertion Quartet: March 6, 2016 Palisades
Nick Millevoi’s Desertion Trio: September 15, 2016 Silent Barn
Oneida: January 9, 2016 Palisades
Oneida: March 11, 2016 Shea Stadium
Oneida: July 30, 2016 Secret Project Robot
Ought: May 8, 2016 Rough Trade NYC
Palehound: August 13, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Palm: January 29, 2016 Palisades
Palm: March 26, 2016 Market Hotel
People of the North: August 10, 2016 Secret Project Robot
Phish: October 15, 2016 North Charleston Coliseum, Charleston, SC
Pill: February 25, 2016 Palisades
PS Eliot: September 15, 2016 Market Hotel
PUP: October 22, 2016 Bowery Ballroom
Rangda: March 4, 2016 Saint Vitus
Rhyton: December 3, 2016 Union Pool
Rooks: December 5, 2015 Mercury Lounge
Running: June 10, 2016 Union Pool
Ryley Walker: May 13, 2016 “A Day at the Market” (Market Hotel)
Ryley Walker: November 3, 2016 Villain
SAVAK: January 22, 2016 Union Pool
SAVAK: June 11, 2016 Union Pool
Shearwater: February 6, 2016 Mercury Lounge
Shearwater: March 15, 2016 Rough Trade (Bowie’s Lodger)
Sloan: October 17, 2016 Bowery Ballroom
Smashing Pumpkins: April 5, 2016 Beacon Theatre
Soda: January 28, 2016 Alphaville
Soft Moon: February 13, 2016 Market Hotel
Soldiers of Fortune: January 7, 2016 Bowery Ballroom
So So Glos: July 16, 2016 Out In The Streets Fest
Spacin’: April 30, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Spacin’: May 28, 2016 Union Pool
Speed the Plough: February 25, 2016 HiFi Bar
Speer Duo: March 24, 2016 Union Pool
Spray Paint: June 10, 2016 Union Pool
Steve Gunn: March 26, 2016 Three Lobed Sweet Sixteen Spectacular
Steve Gunn: December 9, 2016 Bell House
Sunburned Hand of the Man: March 24, 2016 Union Pool
Sunburned Hand of the Man: March 26, 2016 Three Lobed Sweet Sixteen Spectacular
Sunwatchers: March 6, 2016 Palisades
Sunwatchers: March 11, 2016 The Studio at Webster Hall
Teenage Fanclub: October 15, 2016 Bowery Ballroom
Thermals: April 28, 2016 Market Hotel
Thurston Moore Group: April 28, 2016 Rough Trade NYC
Tortoise: March 17, 2016 Littlefield
Ty Segall & the Muggers: February 27, 2016 Webster Hall
Ultimate Painting: May 7, 2016 Music Hall of Williamsburg
Ultimate Painting: December 7, 2016 Bowery Ballroom
Waco Brothers: April 13, 2016 Union Hall
Watery Love: September 9, 2016 Three Lobed / WXDU Day Show, Hopscotch Music Festival
Wilco: February 2, 2016 Capitol Theatre Port Chester, NY
Wilco: February 3, 2016 Capitol Theatre Port Chester, NY
Wilco: June 3, 2016 Mountain Jam – Hunter NY
William Tyler: June 26, 2015 Mercury Lounge
William Tyler: February 2, 2016 Capitol Theatre Port Chester, NY
Woods: May 7, 2016 Music Hall of Williamsburg
Wrekmeister Harmonies: November 4, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Wussy: March 4, 2016 Studio at Webster Hall
Wussy: March 30, 2016 Trans-Pecos
Yo La Tengo: April 9, 2016 Landmark Loew’s New Jersey Theatre
YVETTE: September 29, 2016 Market Hotel


Spotlight: Eli Durst

In Eritrea, a young photographer pursues a cinematic vision.

By Alexandra Pechman

Eli Durst, Photographer, from the series In Asmara, 2015 Courtesy the artist

Eli Durst, Photographer, from the series In Asmara, 2015
Courtesy the artist

Eli Durst spent his summers during high school and college assembling asylum applications at the Austin immigration clinic where his mother works as a legal advocate, often for refugees from Eritrea. Durst took passport photographs and met dozens of people who had crossed the U.S. border from Mexico after landing there by circuitous journeys and illegal means, fleeing Eritrea’s authoritarian government and standstill economy. Yet, some Eritreans spoke wistfully about the underrecognized allure of Asmara, the nation’s capital and a time capsule of early twentieth-century colonial Italian architecture.

In the 1930s, following four decades of colonization, Italian fascist forces imposed the charge of futurism on Asmara through hundreds of new buildings, often shaped like the era’s latest technology: airplanes, radios, trains. The invasion of British troops in 1941, during World War II, brought an end to the Italian colony and the architectural explosion. Today, buildings remain remarkably undisturbed after years of war and undemocratic regimes.

“That really interested me, this kind of a duality of people’s love for this place while they are doing everything they can to leave,” Durst told me recently. In the summer of 2015, Durst visited the city for the first time, arranging for the brother of an Eritrean translator who works with his mother’s clinic to serve as a guide. He showed Durst the city for a few days, but then was forced to report for military training—another reason Eritreans leave the country.

Eli Durst, Samson and Winta, from the series In Asmara, 2015 Courtesy the artist

Eli Durst, Samson and Winta, from the series In Asmara, 2015
Courtesy the artist

Durst toured Asmara using a 2003 architectural survey, but found he was not allowed to photograph iconic buildings. Though still standing, the majority have fallen into disrepair. A 1930s swimming hall he wanted to photograph had, he learned, been closed for a decade, and buildings converted for government use were restricted. With limited accessibility, Durst focused on silent details, and took cues from the cinematic styles of Federico Fellini, Roberto Rossellini, and, most of all, Michelangelo Antonioni. “I couldn’t not see it that way,” Durst said. “Asmara looks so much like the world I’ve seen in these midcentury Italian films. Antonioni, particularly, conveys a certain beauty with an underlying tension, where you have this setting but it’s disintegrating.”

Durst’s sharply contrasted black-and-white images from Asmara are often devoid of people, though the sense remains that someone has just left or is soon to appear in the frame. The Roman lettering of AMOR on a building reflects up from a puddle of standing water. Untouched coffee cups crowd a brimming ashtray on a table. A place setting of food awaits a diner.

“All you can talk about is how beautiful it is, because everyone is afraid of being critical,” Durst said. Eritrea has no free press and one of the world’s worst records for free speech. Journalists who speak out against the government are imprisoned, email and Internet use are closely monitored, and foreign journalists are not allowed to enter the country. (Durst traveled under a tourist visa.)

Durst, a native Texan, took photography classes at Wesleyan University. After graduating in 2011, he moved to New York to learn more about photography, working at Griffin Editions and as an assistant for Joel Meyerowitz, whom he cites as an influence. Durst later attended the Yale University School of Art for his MFA, where he began to work on his Asmara portfolio.

¬¬Eli Durst, Steak, from the series In Asmara, 2015 Courtesy the artist

Eli Durst, Steak, from the series In Asmara, 2015
Courtesy the artist

The retouched passport photographs that Durst took over the years in Austin (and now uses in his work, with applicants’ consent) punctuate the series and connect Durst’s engagement with Eritreans in Austin and Asmara. Other images have faces and bodies that are clipped, cropped, or seen at a distance.

In a photograph taken in the dining room of his nearly unoccupied hotel (tourism to Eritrea is made difficult by a government wary of Western agitators and influence), a waiter in suit and tie stands in front of a contemporarily dressed man seated alone among empty tables.

Durst’s trip coincided with Ramadan, and on Eid al-Fitr local photographers take pictures of celebrating families. One took notice of Durst. “All the younger photographers had digital and he had this old Olympus,” Durst said. “He saw me and I stood out. He took my picture and then pulled me aside and led me around the city.” The man didn’t speak English and Durst was without a translator, so during their hour-long tour Durst never learned his name. In Durst’s image of their encounter, the unknown photographer, his face obscured by the Olympus, trains his analog lens on Durst, a seeming nod to the obscured face of Thomas in the popular imagery from Blow-Up (1966), Antonioni’s seminal meditation on the medium of photography.

“With Antonioni, there are these complicated and often very scary political undercurrents,” Durst said. “That photographic tension exists in his films. That’s what was driving me.”

Alexandra Pechman is a writer based in Rio de Janeiro and New York.

Eli Durst is the winner of the 2016 Portfolio Prize. His exhibition In Asmara is on view at the Aperture Gallery through February 4, 2017. Click here for more information about the Portfolio Prize, now open exclusively to Aperture subscribers.

The post Spotlight: Eli Durst appeared first on Aperture Foundation NY.


John Berger’s Intimate Greatness

Aperture remembers the life of John Berger, whose narrative approach to art criticism reached far beyond photography.

By Geoff Dyer

Jean Mohr, John Berger, 1967 Courtesy the artist

Jean Mohr, John Berger, 1967
Courtesy the artist

I became interested in photography not by taking or looking at photographs but by reading about them. The names of the three writers who served as guides will come as no surprise: Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, and John Berger. I read Sontag on Diane Arbus before I’d seen any photographs by Arbus (there are no pictures in On Photography), and Barthes on André Kertész, and Berger on August Sander without knowing any photographs other than the few reproduced in Camera Lucida and About Looking. (The fact that the photo on the cover of About Looking was credited to someone called Garry Winogrand meant nothing to me.)

Berger was indebted to both of the others. Dedicated to Sontag, the 1978 essay “Uses of Photography” is offered as a series of “responses” to On Photography, published the previous year: “The thoughts are sometimes my own, but all originate in the experience of reading her book.” Writing about The Pleasure of the Text (1973), Berger described Barthes as “the only living critic or theorist of literature and language whom I, as a writer, recognise.”

For his part, Barthes included Sontag’s On Photography in the list of books—omitted from the English edition—at the end of Camera Lucida (1980). Sontag, in turn, had been profoundly shaped by her reading of Barthes. All three had been influenced by Walter Benjamin, whose A Short History of Photography (1931) reads like the oldest surviving part of a map this later trio tried—in their different ways, using customized projections—to extend, enhance, and improve. Benjamin is a constantly flickering presence in much of Barthes’ writing. The anthology of quotations at the end of On Photography is dedicated—with the kind of intimate relation to greatness that Sontag cultivated, adored, and believed to be her due—“to W. B.” At the end of the first part of Ways of Seeing Berger acknowledges that “many of the ideas” had been taken from an essay of Benjamin’s titled “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” (This was 1972, remember, before Benjamin’s essay became one of the most mechanically reproduced and quoted ever written.)

Photography, for all four, was an area of special interest, but not a specialism. They approached photography not with the authority of curators or historians of the medium but as essayists, writers. Their writings on the subject were less the product of accumulated knowledge than active records of how knowledge and understanding had been acquired or was in the process of being acquired.

This is particularly evident in the case of Berger, who did not devote an entire book to the subject until Another Way of Telling in 1982. In a sense, though, he was the one whose training and career led most directly to photography. Sontag had followed a fairly established path of academic study before becoming a freelance writer, and Barthes remained in academia for his entire career. Berger’s creative life, however, was rooted in the visual arts. Leaving school possessed by a single idea—“I wanted to draw naked women. All day long”—he attended London’s Chelsea and Central schools of art. In the early 1950s he began writing about art and became a regular critic— iconoclastic, Marxist, much admired, often derided—for the New Statesman. His first novel, A Painter of Our Time (1958), was a direct result of his immersion in the world of art and the politics of the left. By the mid-1960s he had widened his scope far beyond art and the novel to become a writer unhindered by category and genre. Crucially, for the current discussion, he had begun collaborating with a photographer, Jean Mohr. Their first book, A Fortunate Man (1967), made a significant step beyond the pioneering work of Walker Evans and James Agee in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), on rural poverty in the Great Depression. (A Fortunate Man is subtitled “The Story of a Country Doctor,” in homage, presumably, to the great photo-essay by W. Eugene Smith, “Country Doctor,” published in Life in 1948.) This was followed by their study of migrant labor, A Seventh Man (1975), and, eventually, Another Way of Telling. The important thing, in all three books, is that the photographs are not there to illustrate the text, and, conversely, the text is not intended to serve as any kind of extended caption for the images. Rejecting what Berger regards as a kind of “tautology,” words and images exist, instead, in an integrated, mutually enhancing relationship. A new form was being forged and refined.

A side-effect of this ongoing relationship with Mohr was that Berger had, for many years, not only observed Mohr at work; he had also been the subject of that work. Lacking the training as a photographer that he’d enjoyed as an artist, he became very familiar with the other side of the experience, of being photographed. With the exception of one picture, by another friend—Henri Cartier-Bresson!—the author photographs for his books have almost always been by Mohr; they constitute Mohr’s visual biography of his friend. (The essay on Mohr included here records Berger’s attempt to reciprocate, to make a sketch of the photographer.) His writings on drawing speak with the authority of the drawer; his writings on photography often concentrate on the experience, the depicted lives, of those photographed. Barthes expressed the initial impetus for Camera Lucida as photography “against film”; Berger’s writing on photography hinges on its relationship to painting and drawing. As Berger has grown older, his early training—in drawing—rather than fading in importance has become a more and more trusted tool of investigation and inquiry. (Tellingly, his latest book, published in 2011 and inspired in part by Spinoza, is called Bento’s Sketchbook.) A representative passage in “My Beautiful” records how, in a museum in Florence, he came across the porcelain head of an angel by Luca della Robbia: “I did a drawing to try to understand better the expression of her face.” Could this be part of the fascination of photography for Berger? Not just that it is a wholly different form of image production, but that it is immune to explication by drawing? A photograph can be drawn, obviously, but how can its meaning best be drawn out?

This was the goal Barthes and Berger shared: to articulate the essence of photography—or, as Alfred Stieglitz had expressed it in 1914, “the idea photography.” While this ambition fed, naturally enough, into photographic theory, Berger’s method was always too personal, the habits of the autodidact too ingrained, to succumb to the kind of discourse- and semiotics-mania that seized cultural studies in the 1970s and ’80s. Victor Burgin—to take a representative figure of the time—had much to learn from Berger; Berger comparatively little from Burgin. After all, by the time of About Looking (1980), the collection that contained some of his most important essays on photography, Berger had been living in the Haute-Savoie, France, for the best part of a decade. His researches—I let the word stand in spite of being so thoroughly inappropriate—into photography proceeded in tandem with the struggle to gain a different kind of knowledge and understanding: of the peasants he had been living among and was writing about in the trilogy Into Their Labours. Except, of course, the knowledge and methods were not so distinct after all. Writing the fictional lives of Lucie Cabrol or Boris—in Pig Earth (1979) and Once in Europa (1987), the first two volumes of the trilogy—or about Paul Strand’s photograph of Mr. Bennett (p. 44), both required the kind of attentiveness celebrated by D. H. Lawrence in his poem “Thought”:

Thought is gazing on to the face of life, and reading what can be read,
Thought is pondering over experience, and coming to a conclusion.
Thought is not a trick, or an exercise, or a set of dodges,
Thought is a man in his wholeness wholly attending.

In Berger’s case, the habit of thought is like a sustained and disciplined version of something that had come instinctively to him as a boy. In Here Is Where We Meet the author’s mother remembers him as a child on a tram in the London suburb of Croydon: “I never saw anyone look as hard as you did, sitting on the edge of the seat.” If the boy ended up becoming a “theorist,” then it is by adherence to the method described by Goethe, quoted by Benjamin (in A Short History) and requoted by Berger in “The Suit and the Photograph”: “There is a delicate form of the empirical which identifies itself so intimately with its object that it thereby becomes theory.”

This is what makes Berger such a wonderful practical critic and reader of individual photographs (“gazing on to the face of life, and reading what can be read”), questioning them with his signature intensity of attention—and, often, tenderness. (See, for example, the analysis of Kertész’s picture A Red Hussar Leaving, Budapest, June 1919.) To that extent his writing on photography continues the interrogation of the visible that characterized his writing on painting. As he explains at the beginning of the conversation with Sebastião Salgado: “I try to put into words what I see.”

This essay is adapted from the introduction to John Berger’s Understanding a Photograph, published by Aperture in 2013.

Geoff Dyer’s most recent book is White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World (2016).

The post John Berger’s Intimate Greatness appeared first on Aperture Foundation NY.


Poet and Philosopher John O’Donohue on Selfhood, the Crucible of Identity, and What Makes Life’s Transience Bearable

“It is crucial to understand that experience itself is not merely an empirical process of appropriating or digesting blocks of life. Experience is rather a journey of transfiguration. Both that which is lived and the one who lives it are transfigured.”

Poet and Philosopher John O’Donohue on Selfhood, the Crucible of Identity, and What Makes Life’s Transience Bearable

“There is, in sanest hours, a consciousness, a thought that rises, independent, lifted out from all else, calm, like the stars, shining eternal,” Walt Whitman wrote as he contemplated the experience of identity and the paradox of the self. And yet we know — we even feel — that what we experience as ourselves is not eternal but transient, an ever-changing constellation of components drawn from our living lives. This transient, emergent nature of personhood becomes acutely apparent and acutely disorienting as soon as we consider what makes one and one’s childhood self the “same” person despite a lifetime of biological, psychological, and spiritual change. But this transience itself is the wellspring of our vitality, the fountain at which we slake our thirst for life.

That paradoxical notion is what the great Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue (January 1, 1956–January 4, 2008) explores in a portion of Four Elements: Reflections on Nature (public library) — a posthumous collection of previously unpublished papers, in which O’Donohue draws on his Celtic heritage, his poetic gift, and his lyrical approach to philosophy to explore how the corporeality and spirituality that mark our existence interact to reveal us to ourselves.

John O’Donohue (Photograph: Colm Hogan)

O’Donohue writes:

Selfhood is not an imperial possession of the human orphan. It is not exclusively human. Selfhood is more patient and ancient, a diverse intimacy of the earth with itself.

If the earth has the most ancient networks of selfhood, then the memory of the earth is the ultimate harvester and preserver of all happening and experience. In modern life, experience enjoys privileged status as the force which awakens, enables and stabilizes human growth. The significance of experience is intimately bound up with the urgency of modern individuality. This sense of individuality achieved its classical contour through the metaphysical scalpel of Descartes’ “Cogito” which cut the individual free from the cosmic webbing of scholasticism.

This concept of individuality was further intensified in German Idealism and Existentialism. Life is seen to be woven on the loom of individual experience.

And yet the fundamental nature of our experience, O’Donohue points out, is transience. In a sentiment that calls to mind Alan Lightman’s assertion that “oblivious to our human yearnings for permanence, the universe is relentlessly wearing down,” he reflects on the necessity of that recognition and how it sanctifies life:

Taking experience seriously must make it equally necessary to take the destiny or future of experience seriously. This is a particularly poignant necessity, given that the future of each experience is its disappearance. The destiny of every experience is transience.

Transience makes a ghost out of each experience. There was never a dawn that did not drop down into noon, never a noon which did not fade into evening, and never an evening that did not get buried in the graveyard of the night.

One remembers the sentence which won the contest of wisdom in ancient Greece: “This too will pass.” The pain of transience haunted Goethe’s Faust; he implored the beautiful figure who appeared to him: “Verweile doch, Du bist so schön!” Linger a while, for you are so beautiful!

O’Donohue considers the only human faculty that appeases and anneals us to the inescapable transience of all experience, including life itself:

Out of the fiber and density of each experience transience makes a ghost. The future, rich with possibility, becomes a vacant past. Every thing, no matter how painful, beautiful or sonorous, recedes into the silence of transience. Transience too is the maker of the final silence, the silence of death.

Is the silence which transience brings a vacant silence? Does everything vanish into emptiness? Like the patterns which birdflight makes in the air, is there nothing left? Where does the flame go when the candle is blown out? Is there a place where the past can gather? I believe there is. That place is memory. That which holds out against transience is memoria.

Echoing modern psychology’s discovery that memory is the crucible of the self, he adds:

Memoria is always quietly at work, gathering and interweaving experience. Memoria is the place where our vanished lives secretly gather. For nothing that happens to us is ever finally lost or forgotten. In a strange way, everything that happens to us remains somehow still alive within us.


It is crucial to understand that experience itself is not merely an empirical process of appropriating or digesting blocks of life. Experience is rather a journey of transfiguration. Both that which is lived and the one who lives it are transfigured. Experience is not about the consumption of life, rather it is about the interflow of creation into the self and of the self into creation. This brings about subtle and consistently new configurations in both. That is the activity of growth and creativity.

Viewed against this perspective, the concealed nature of memoria is easier to understand. Memoria is the harvester and harvest of transfigured experience. Deep in the silent layers of selfhood, the coagulations of memoria are at work. It is because of this subtle integration of self and life that there is the possibility of any continuity in experience.

“All great truths are obvious truths,” Aldoux Huxley wrote, “but not all obvious truths are great truths.” Perhaps it is an obvious truth, but it is also a great truth that years after his sudden and untimely death, O’Donohue lives on in our collective memoria through his transcendent writings, which continue to offer a consecrating lens on the transience we call life.

Complement Four Elements with O’Donohue on beauty and desire, the essence of true friendship, and how our restlessness fuels our creativity, then revisit Annie Dillard on what a stunt pilot knows about impermanence and the meaning of life and this uncommonly beautiful and subtle Japanese pop-up book about transience and the cycle of life.

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LG Levitating Portable Speaker Charges Its Battery Wirelessly

At CES 2017, LG features its latest futuristic levitating portable speaker. Cool and mesmerizing, this speaker hovers in place over the station while delivering high quality audio. It delivers an eye-catching design with its striking looks, you can play any audio content in your home as well as outdoors.

This magnificent visual effect is the result from powerful electromagnets housed inside the Levitation Station, it gives the speaker its unique feature, floating while playing your music. The 360-degree omnidirectional speaker features turbine blade-inspired design and delivers deep bass thanks to the subwoofer inside the Levitation Station. The speaker is also equipped with Dual Passive Radiator technology to produce flush mid-range tones and crisp highs.

The battery of LG Levitating Portable Speaker offers you 10-hour operation and when the battery runs low, it’ll automatically descend to the station and begin to charge wirelessly, no intervention needed and no interruption in the music. You can connect the speaker to two Bluetooth devices simultaneously.

From : LG

LG Levitating Portable Speaker

LG Levitating Portable Speaker

LG Levitating Portable Speaker Charges Its Battery Wirelessly is originally posted on Tuvie – Modern Industrial Design