my name is devin ivy,

and i'm a photographer from portland, maine. i recently graduated from tufts university
with a degree in mathematics, which i studied alongside a focused curriculum in photography and film.
since 2010 i've shown my photos in somerville, ma; budapest, hungary; and a couple times in portland, me.
in my work i always consider photography as being in a condition of incompleteness, lacking
information but feigning verity. so far i think the trick is precisely there:
in reconciling consistency and incompleteness.

here you will find the fruits of my shot at that reconciliation.

want any of these photos as prints? need a website?
ad/flyer design? math tutoring?

then shoot me an email at art@devinivy.com

the thing about shooting shows

shooting a musical performance carries with it loads of implications for the photographer, but here i'll focus on a very fundamental question. my last concern is to geek out about how to deal with typical stage lighting, bouncing flashes around the room, and snagging that blogg-and-watermark-able action shot of yaxl rows's flared left nostril. before any of that can even come into play, let's decide what we ought to be looking at when we enter a show with a camera.

this issue is as much an inquiry into the nature of musical performance as it is a question about photography, as we're deciding what constitutes a worthwhile subject at a show. i'd like to preface this whole spiel with a caveat: i'm not one for absolutes-- there are bajillions of "worthwhile" places to point your camera. it's just that i've noticed a strong, constant trend in this form of photography reminiscent of what you'd find in a sports illustrated: the pictures tend to (1) be action-based and (2) exclusively feature the musicians. what about the silent moments? where is the audience? is there not a give and take between spectator and spectacle?

imagine if you asked me what it's like to live in portland, and i handed you a binder containing a well-labeled map of the city with my house marked, a menu from one of my favorite restaurants, and a list of some recent events to which i allegedly went. hopefully you would say something like, "stop fucking around, devin. what does it feel like to sit down at congress bar & grill? [it's bbq-dark and bbq-delicious.] were there some good portland-vibrations going on at dominic lavoie's release show? [the band played a beautiful, varied set and there were baked goods, so yes.]" that binder contained a bunch of information about what i related to in portland, but not how i-- a representative of portland folk-- related to those things. which is, well… essential. it's perhaps the most important part of the answer to your question.

it's all about the folk. just as a question about living in portland has everything to do with how those who live there shape and interact with the city, viewfinders in venues should point at the performers, the audience, and crucially the distance between them-- how the two relate to one another. every musical performance harkens to folk tradition. not the folk genre, but rather the idea that the music belongs to a sort of tribe. it can be borderline magical to go to a show and physically join a crowd of a few, dozens, hundreds, or thousands of strangers (or better yet, friends) who all claim ownership-by-identification of the same music ("that is my song"). in musical performance, the artist and folk face each other and are in turn given the chance to play off of one another without theater's fourth wall.

the interplay towards which the camera should point is where the folk's ownership-by-identification (or at least the crowd's ownership-as-critic) and the musicians' ownership-as-performer meet each other. sometimes they meet turbulently and other times with grace; but there's no sliding scale between the two. the thing about shooting shows is that you necessarily become one of the folk.

some shows...
lady lamb the beekeeper 1 & 2
the milkman's union 1 & 2

night collared white

between 7:45p and 10:00p dozens, probably hundreds, can be seen working into the night through office windows in boston's financial district. from dewey square (the site of the evicted occupy encampment) to post office square, across the channel towards the ICA, and along all of south station's smaller blocks, trapezoids, and other quadrangles, these bodies work alone. unaware that there may be others doing the same- at times just a window or two to the right. they're physically disjoint, but i expect they at least cross paths in some common mental space. what sort of mental space do they inhabit? where and with whom aren't they?
is it not in some ways utterly strange?


in the past week we published the most recent installment of MELISMA, which is tufts university's one and only independent publication for music, arts, and culture. oddly enough there really isn't anything like MELISMA at tufts. we've heard a bunch of complaints about other publications heavily editing music reviews. which is sort of bizarre, really. anyways, we don't edit shit. if it reads smoothly in some language and is related to music, art, or culture, we'll publish it. and we did. have a lookie.

the thing about obscurity, pt. 1

welcome to the world and age of photographic information. it's partly a natural result of the development and domination of digital processes in the photo-world; RAW and HDR technology, both related to maximizing the (often tonal) information in digital photos, are made possible by the processing power of computers. and ever since film has been given speed ratings (beginning around 1880 and coming to some sort of modern usage with ASA rating in the 40s) we have been pushing and pulling film during development to retrieve shadow and highlight detail. a collaboration between ansel adams and fred archer in 1939-40 gave us the (wonderfully amazing) "zone system" which marries the photographer's visualization of tonal qualities in a final image to the exposure at the time of picture-taking and the subsequent development process. it's a juggernaut of a tool that lets photographers "see" a final print as they prepare to take a photo, and its efficacy is more than apparent in every square-millimeter of ansel adams's prints. once technology provided film permitting reasonable exposure times a GIGANTIC portion of the advances in photo-technology and -technique have centered on capturing maximal detail. it's a natural scientific exercise that bled over into photography-as-fine-art. and for the most part it's stuck.

there are ideological reasons that the photographer may value highlight and shadow detail. after all, a photo may carry unprecedented amounts of visual information (versus a drawing or painting where the thinnest line one can make does not compare to photographic resolution). lack of, say, shadow detail in an area of a photo that an eye could resolve were it present when the picture was made is thus unphotographic. the core of the thought here is that the absence of information violates photography's nature because it violates its capabilities.

but that is a load of hooey. who decided so hastily that photography is even capable of depicting actuality?

part 2...

the thing about obscurity, pt. 2

despite photography's severance from painting (as mentioned prior), one may think of the unexposed frame as a blank canvas. upon the canvas shines light from a certain scene over a particular interval of time, and thus the canvas is marked. by virtue of this process, form comes from the emergence of light out of non-light; the marks we make are lightness on darkness, representation out of black naught. our sense of sight arises similarly, as the forms around us may be seen only when light reflects from them in ample amounts and finds a retina. visual nothingness, be it sensory or photographic, is black- it is the absence of light rather than a white hot surplus. although one may speak of anti-detail in highlights, i am concerned with the unrelenting, undefined, uncertain shadows. even slight tonal differences remind us that the detail in an image exists only as it differs from zero: black is the standard, the key, and it is inescapable.

the condition of photography is incompleteness. one billion ingredients determine how many degrees of separation there are between a captured image and that which it physically represents. diane arbus's grenade boy reminds us that young frankenstein here is really just a boy who is justifiably frustrated and happens to be playing with a toy hand grenade. a sliver of a moment paired with a sliver of physical perspective may be extrapolated to any infinite number of possibilities, only a few of which are literally accurate. literal accuracy or documentation bears minimal relation to photography-as-art, which relies precisely on a lack of information in the midst of representation of the physical world. the photographer relates to the viewer of his/her work by playing upon the viewer's personal tendency to fill gaps. it is the photographer's craft to carefully present and orient the gaps in order to create narrative and bring the work to life by asking questions rather than presenting documentary answers. photography's obvious relation to the physical world makes the questions/narratives/themes/depictions poignant because the viewer can easily examine them as reality. anna and bernhard blume's work may state and exemplify this thought this better than i could ever place it in writing (see wahnzimmer, punning on "wohnzimmer," which is the difference between a "madness room" and a relatable bourgeois "livingroom" respectively).

pure shadow is simply another instantiation of uncertainty. subjects of an image found disjoint from each other due to pure darkness are nonetheless part of a physical world, and thus glued together by an indiscernible scene that we may suppose to be sensible; just as we extrapolate situationally, we will also extrapolate visually. while looking at photography we are hopelessly bound in plato's cave, and our life there is one giant extrapolation. it just so happens that the shadows in the cave are not so different from the shadows i refer to. the thing about obscurity is that it is one of many, many, many things that the camera does not see. strike a match and take a walk around.

somerville armory showing

i'm showing rivers 1 & 2, three kings, plus excerpts from savoyard flicker and some gelatin-silver prints from long ago (including a couple photos from self-portraits 1). all the work is installed in the gallery at the somerville armory in MA and can be seen any time the performance hall is open this december (dates dec. 10, 11, 17, 24, 31). definitely expect some changes in the line-up as the month goes on...

also! i'm coming to end part one of a project i've been planning for a really long time, so, well... anticipate.
kick arse

the thing about looking, pt. 1

there is there odd unwritten rule about looking at people. you're not supposed to. well, that's not wholly true- you're not supposed to get caught looking at someone else. naturally we all look at each other. all the time. the gaze is a prevalent beast. more often than not we associate it with voyeurism. and surely sometimes it is... maybe the gaze is even usually voyeuristic. really though, we simply don't know which stares are nice, which are sketchy, and what the nice-sketchy ratio is. it's not doing people much justice to assume, even if it's a passive assumption, that to look is to violate. (ladies, don't hurt me. i've never been a chick in a heteronormative society, so it's totally plausible that your experience with the gaze is markedly different.)

now, some argue that our aversion to eye contact is biological. you don't stare a human in the eye for the same reason you oughtn't stare a cougar, bear, or some other animal-that-will-tear-you-apart in the eye. some attribute it to the vulnerability you may feel when someone looks into your eyes- an "eyes are the windows to the soul" sort of deal. that is, for someone to see you is for that person to know something about you that you cannot hide (which is actually pretty fucking alarming). that rationale is starting to sound a lot more human and equally more poignant. but what about our personal anxieties about being caught looking? to catch a looker you necessarily become one; it seems to me that our own anxieties over the guilt associated with being identified as a looker are projected onto the other (perhaps i should say "l'autre"... see post part 2 below). the thing about looking is that it's fine- until the gaze is returned. (or so we see it.)

the thing about looking, pt. 2

and now for some art.

luc delahaye brilliantly deals with the gaze in l'autre. he makes extreme closeups of people riding the Paris metro. it is the "rule" mentioned in part 1 fully embodied. "l'autre" that delahaye refers to is precisely the same "other" as mentioned in part 1. our looking coupled with the physically necessary distance required for sight alienates the subject to l'autre from which a gaze best not be returned.

philip-lorca dicorcia's project heads is shot at long-distance with a strobe placed in the vicinity of the subjects. captured are intimate, revealing moments into which we are permitted to enter. the subjects are found in thought or initiating their own gaze, but never returning it.

hitchcock's film rear window is about an injured photographer (when healthy he makes photos of tragic events and wins awards for them) who passes the time by coming up with his own stories about those who live in his courtyard, simply by spying on the various apartments out of his window. he claims to have witnessed evidence of a murder, but it is far more likely that the way in which he projects his subconscious thoughts and feelings onto the incomplete picture he has of his neighbors actually is the "cause" of the murder. he looks without being looked at until the most frightening shot of the film.

brigitte lustenberger displays a certain straightforwardness (and relentlessness) in making photographs dealing with the gaze. in her series caught we, as lookers, are clearly given the role of the voyeur as we observe presumably harmless interactions between two people. in i am watching you three portraits in profile stare back at us (again, the lookers). the nearly-scientific information-rich profile portrait (think of mug shots) is tainted by a returned stare. we expect to be able to look at the profiled person up and down without restraint, but we are instead caught in the act. should we feel anxious about being caught if we do not consider ourselves guilty?

director michelangelo antonioni made a 1966 film entitled blow-up whose relation to rear window is a little mind-boggling. a fashion photographer in swinger-london thinks he witnesses a murder due to a series of photos he took. his carnal gaze towards his subjects (generally models and the homeless) is later returned to him in an earth-shattering way. it's hard to talk about the film without giving anything awesome away, but at least go see it to watch jeff beck rock out with the yardbirds for thirty seconds.


so, it's been some time and plenty has happened. showing "sick of symmetry" in budapest went fantastically and was a supahdupah experience for me. as though it were mimicking itself, the exhibition deteriorated over the course of several weeks into asymmetry-soup. when i left hungary it was still up. though i've not added anything to the site for some time, i have indeed been taking photos and even been piecing together a few projects. you'll see a few photos in a new series, "cover". other photoprojects have served as prototypes for ideas i hope to develop in the upcoming weeks, months, and various other time-like intervals from here and now. in the mean time i created a photo-narrative based digital photography curriculum aimed at 8th- and 9th-graders. i'm going into my sixth week of teaching the curriculum, and it's gone... peaceably, i'd say. some of these final projects are off the chain(, dawg). lots of thoughts; lots happening; lots of photos to take, make, and wade through: soup man, soup.

toothy grins

lounging here in my somewhat fancy chair just a few thousand kilometers east of "home". well, it might just as well all be home now. hungary and fancy chairs go well together and i welcome that. it makes a good environment for sequencing. and that is exactly what i've been doing! as proof you can check the new series, "sick of symmetry". this series is the result of some early photographs taken here in budapest as well as others taken on various rolls of film shot in maine and talloires, france. and even better, this exact series will be shown at my favorite bar in one week's time. horrah, i say! the bar is called fogasház, which is a word that has to do with teeth. and maybe fish, too. but definitely teeth. fogasház plays excellent music, has a wondrous ping-pong table, attracts the classiest of eccentrics, and (most notably in this blog) shows lots and lots of art. right now they're doing an exhibit of young photographers and i am really impressed, for whatever that's worth. i want to meet these photographers so badly. there's an homage to hiroshi sugimoto's theaters which is a real standout- shots taken looking straight up apartment courtyards. but they look more like theaters to me (in fact the first time i saw them, even at a distance, i could think only of sugimoto). also, some meaningfully crafted tilt-shift photos and one particular, surreal, gregory-crewdson-esque image (can been seen on a flyer here) hit me in the right place. anyways, there's still some uncountably infinite amount of photos to be taken in budapest. i'll make as much progress on that as i can and get back to you. and yet still more photos to place somewhere they belong. the poor things are stuck in line. they're safe on their rolls, carefully placed at positions one through thirty-six, but life as a negative all too often lacks poetry. gotta make 'em grin.

photo highs and woes, to budapest he goes

so much. i've had some luck at the bakery photographic collective in westbrook scanning negatives (providing for a very posh "contact sheet"). due to some really poor development of half the tri-x i was sitting on, though, i planned to process the rest myself at my newly discovered mecca, the bakery (i would love for a daily/many-times-a-week-ly hajj). point is, due to extreme busy-ness, i'm still stuck with four undeveloped rolls. and i'm off to budapest in a day. the fate of those rolls is unfortunately whack. i need contact sheets. i need to be working with these photos. i need to sequence. hell, i need to print. i will gladly pray five times a day towards the bakery photographic collective if it means i'll find beautiful photo facilities in hungary. how are my chances? will i find a field camera? i sort of can't wait to find out. unprocessed tri-x, (maybe) you're coming with me. in the mean time i've been working on developing the concept behind a photo project which i will not be shooting. it involves many portlanders who you may well know. next time a new post shows up, i'll be a ways from anything resembling portland, boston, or really north/south america in general. wowzas.

progress, film processed

progress. i have four of those eight rolls developed, yet i'm contact sheet-less. tomorrow i will be heading over to put in a couple hours at the bakery collective in westbrook making contact sheets and perhaps beginning preliminary printing. it feels as though it's been a long time since i've made a wet print (rivers was my last film project, non-wetly printed from scanned negatives). the process is solemn and lonely, but only in the best possible sense. i love it for that.

city folk sitting, sitting

so i'm sitting on a lot of work, eight rolls of tri-x. (issue being i have neither the tools nor the money to develop the film.) after this round of black and white i plan to shoot some color. hoping to find a field camera and darkroom in budapest come september, but i'm prepared to persist without such luxuries. i'm just frustrated and want to sequence and produce these 36*8=288 gelatin-silver ghosts. plus my new favorite 35mm camera is in the shop, aye. someone get me a drink. and mix it strong with developer, agitated not stirred.

savoyard flicker

i don't really know what just happened, but the result is a new series posted just a few moments ago. cool! also, today i sat at north star for a couple hours and invited anyone to drop by and say hi. shouts out to cam, kevin, maisie, mama, rojario, and two wonderful north star iced tea maker nacho ladies- thanks supermuch, my people.

i'm in north star!

head on down to north star cafe in portland to see these photos in print. if you're sitting in north star this very moment, then thanks for taking a look around and visiting my site. there is still lots of work to do on the site- it will become increasingly prettier over the next week until it hits a plateau.




darkmouth st.
allele, butcher boy, AWAAS, swaath
poland street
butcher boy, cowboy band, cult & leper
poland street
butcher boy, contrapposto, theodore treehouse, jeff beam
poland street
greg mickillop, kouros, billy carr, electrician, wesley allen hartley
oak and the ax
methuin muir, lisa/liza, arborea
poland street
hyena, fat history month, dust from 1000 yrs
the milkman's union
the milkman's union
tt the bear's
lady lamb the beekeeper
the middle east
lady lamb the beekeeper