May 9, 2008
Final Fantasy — Pascal Dangin is 'The Photo Whisperer'
Probably the world's most expensive and in-demand photo manipulator, Dangin (above) is profiled in a superb article by Lauren Collins which appears in the current (May 12, 2008) issue of the New Yorker; excerpts follow.
- Pixel Perfect — Pascal Dangin's Virtual Reality
In the March issue of Vogue Dangin tweaked a hundred and forty-four images: a hundred and seven advertisements (Estée Lauder, Gucci, Dior, etc.), thirty-six fashion pictures, and the cover, featuring Drew Barrymore.
Pascal Dangin is the premier retoucher of fashion photographs. Art directors and admen call him when they want someone who looks less than great to look great, someone who looks great to look amazing, or someone who looks amazing already—whether by dint of DNA or M·A·C—to look, as is the mode, superhuman. (Christy Turlington, for the record, needs the least help.)
To keep track of his clients, he assigns three-letter rubrics, like airport codes.... AFR (Air France), AMX (American Express), BAL (Balenciaga), DSN (Disney), LUV (Louis Vuitton), TFY (Tiffany & Co.), VIC (Victoria’s Secret).
Vanity Fair, W, Harper’s Bazaar, Allure, French Vogue, Italian Vogue, V, and the Times Magazine, among others, also use Dangin.
Many photographers, including Annie Leibovitz, Steven Meisel, Craig McDean, Mario Sorrenti, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, and Philip-Lorca diCorcia, rarely work with anyone else.
Around thirty celebrities keep him on retainer, in order to insure that any portrait of them that appears in any outlet passes through his shop, to be scrubbed of crow’s-feet and stray hairs.
Those who work with Dangin describe him as a sort of photo whisperer, able to coax possibilities, palettes, and shadings out of pictures that even the person who shot them may not have imagined possible.
As renowned as Dangin is in fashion and photographic circles, his work, with its whiff of black magic, is not often discussed outside of them. (He is not, for instance, credited in magazines.)
"Because I look at life as retouching. Makeup, clothes are just an accessorization of your being, they are just a transformation of what you want to look like."
One night in April, Dangin agreed to show me his basement laboratory. He led the way down a flight of stairs, past rows of shelves stacked to the ceiling with books and back issues of every conceivable publication. Enormous data processors, encased in glass cubes, whirred in the distance, as though we’d landed in a NASA laboratory.
Finally, we reached a cool concrete room with no windows. It was pitch-dark, except for the ambient light of monitors. (For eighty hours a week, these screens are Dangin’s exclusive visual stimuli.) "This is what we call Las Vegas, because it’s always the same weather, it’s always the same time," he said. "It’s always seventy degrees. If it rain, shine, snow, we don’t know."
But playing with the representational possibilities of photographs, and the bodies contained therein, has always aroused the suspicion of viewers with a perpetual, if naïve, desire for objective renderings of the world around them.
To avoid such complaints, retouchers tend to practice semi-clandestinely.
Retouchers, subjected to endless epistemological debates—are they simple conduits for social expectations of beauty, or shapers of such?—often resort to a don’t-shoot-the-messenger defense of their craft, familiar to repo guys and bail bondsmen.
When I asked Dangin if the steroidal advantage that retouching gives to celebrities was unfair to ordinary people, he admitted that he was complicit in perpetuating unrealistic images of the human body, but said, “I’m just giving the supply to the demand.” (Fashion advertisements are not public-service announcements.)
Don't bother, it's here.
What is it?
Answer here this time tomorrow.
Snowbird Ice Cream Shop — Where Baskin-Robbins was born
Look at the 1945 photo above.
What do you see?
From that single store in Glendale, California, opened by 28-year-old returning World War II veteran Irvine Robbins soon after leaving the Army, came the Baskin-Robbins ice cream empire which, by the time Robbins retired in 1978, was selling 20 million gallons of ice cream a year in more than 2,000 stores around the world.
About halfway through Valerie J. Nelson's excellent May 7, 2008 Los Angeles Times obituary of Robbins was this nugget about what Robbins's dairyman father told both him and Burton Baskin, Robbin's brother-in-law and future partner, when Baskin opened his own store, Burton's Ice Cream, in Pasadena, California in 1946: "Following the advice of Robbins' father, the pair purposely avoided starting out in business together. He had warned that partnering right away would cause them to squelch too many of their own ideas as they compromised in an effort to get along."
Way beyond profound to my way of thinking, and the best business advice I've read this month.
Sure, Hewlett and Packard, Brin and Page, Wozniak and Jobs, Yang and Filo and many other teams created empires resulting from a fortunate pairing of gifts.
How many other combined efforts crashed and burned, though, when the founding partners prematurely drank the same Kool-Aid?
There's something to be said for everyone taking their own road, at least in the beginning.
Here's a link to Dennis Hevesi's complementary May 7, 2008 New York Times obituary of Robbins (below).
Piggyback Table(s) — by Thomas Heatherwick
"Magis asked Heatherwick to design a dividable domestic table and 'the result was a table which literally "piggybacks" its twin,' according to Heatherwick’s studio.
"A grove and slot system has been designed so that when the two tables are on top of each other they seem to fuse to create a single table."
From Paul Goldberger's article about Heatherwick in the May 12, 2008 New Yorker:
"The studio recently completed a prototype for an expandable dining table consisting of two nearly identical tables that slot on top of each other —Heatherwick dubbed the design 'Piggyback.'
"The legs of the top table slide so neatly over those of the bottom one that the joined tables look like a single piece of furniture. When you want a bigger table, you lift the top table off, and the result is two tables with thinner legs and thinner tops.
"It is an enticing piece, possessing, like much of Heatherwick’s work, both the wit of an epigram and the conceptual elegance of a mathematical proof."
'Goats Eat Free at the Getty'
"The Getty Center in Los Angeles has contracted about 60 goats, including the one shown above, to eat the brush on its 110 acres. If left unmanaged, the brush could serve as fuel for wildfires."
That's what Lawrence Van Gelder reported in the lead item of his "Arts, Briefly" column in yesterday's New York Times.
You could look it up.
FridgeFork — Integrated Condiment Retriever
From the website:
This great little FridgeFork is ideal for the picnic or buffet table.
It makes retrieving pickles, olives and other jarred condiments convenient and clean.
The stretchy silicone loop fits around jars and holds the 6.5” fork — think of it as a little fork holster.
When the picnic is over, return your condiments to the refrigerator — but leave the FridgeFork on the jar.
Includes 1 small loop, 1 large loop, 1 fork holder, and 1 fork.
Silicone and plastic with steel tines.
Avocado, Cherry or Meringue.
Pretty Social — 'A place for women to share and discuss stories from around the web'
Bird-Electron EZ17-B iPod Recycling Speaker
From the website:
Bird-Electron EZ17-B iPod Recycling Speaker
The one and only Recycling Speaker for iPod.
The dimensions are exactly the same as the plastic package for iPod Nano (1st & 2nd Gen.) and iPod Shuffle (2nd & 3rd Gen.).
Simply just place the speaker panel on top of the open box, plug it into the iPod and play.
Bird-Electron's recycling speaker does not require any power source.
You can also customize your own recycling speaker with any small container like a water bottle.
103mm L x 53mm W x 2mm D.
$39.99 (iPod not included).