About Me

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MICHAEL SCHREIER Michael Schreier is a professional artist and photographer who has dedicated his considerable professional career to the celebration of both the public and private hero. Recent work includes Storyteller, Waiting for Words at the Ottawa Art Gallery, curator Emily Falvey, 2009, and the curating of the exhibition Dave Heath, A Heritage of Meaning, 2013 at the Ottawa Art Gallery. Selected works are represented in both public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, the National Archives Photography Collection, the Agnes-Etherington Art Centre, the Canadian Portrait Gallery, Visual Studies Workshop, (Rochester, New York), Light Works Workshop, Syracuse New York, Carleton University Art Gallery, and the University of Ottawa Library Special Collections.

Thursday 2 July 2020

Post # 23

(Click on image for detailed viewing)

The Poetics of Voice

"with appreciation to Lawrence Lipking," 

                                                                   The life of the Poet:
                                                    Beginning and ending Poetic Careers

" If the lives of the Poet/Artist tend to be peripheral to 
the insides of work, 
the life of the artist is often the life of the work: 
then to become the life of the beholder.?"

The artist [beholder] embracing the work might recognize its autonomy?

Lawrence Lipking underscores the value that an artist's life might encourage vision and a poet's voice: suggesting this might also offer a rationalization, a clarity not to be mistaken for truth. A photograph's truth rests in its metadata, its formal and material rendering. With this one becomes reliant on objectivity, and as is currently suggested the presence of "fake" and the challenged rendering: bringing into question one's facility/sensitivity for both evidence and metaphor. 

                                                                               The "insides of a work"?

Photography's analogue negative on film or paper emulsion begins as a latent image: an image registered in the emulsion to be developed, its characteristic to be determined by silver content and directly related, sensitivity to light. Note: the actual visual quality of the image is determined by exposure control taking into account the amount of light available and the desired rendering, whether of maximum depth of field or limited through aperture/shutter speed adjustment. The development of the image determines appearance, grain structure and the subsequent aesthetic content of the image.The critical difference between this and the digital image is that the film becomes the sensor and the latent image results in a translation of 1's and 0's.

However, the true beginning of metadata, whether analogue or digital resides in intent. The artist's  initial impulses, experiences and  insight might be shaped to both the present and to the value of history and continuity. This is true to photography as to any of the creative arts. It is in the presence of the "other" that voice is initiated. 
                                    So how is it that a work reveals its true self, the portrait of the self?

One looking carefully at the above images might discern mutual elements of containment, layering and of transparency: all of which lead to an understanding for passage. The time line, day>month>year>hour>minute>second offers an initial containment, confirming a moment observed.

Part 1: The Heroics of the Banal

The Jacob M. Lowy Collection is Canada's national treasure of old and rare Hebraic and Judaica. Its intellectual scope spans religious, scientific, historical and philological thought emanating from presses in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. It now comprises approximately 3000 volumes printed between the 15th and 20th centuries.

Friends of Library Archives Canada

                             The above three works introduce the still life as a staging for thought.

All this might lead one to pay attention to the privacy of knowledge and the value for empathy. It is true that to give value to another, one must first value the self, not a self portrait but a portrait of the self.

Chiaroscuro, the rendering of light to dark offers not only a quality of texture but an experience of passage in which contiguity prevails.
Light to dark plays a drama between what is revealed, disclosed and what must remain privileged, in the interim of a conversation, there is a pause, as Lyotard suggests, a Differend, a moment of quiet reassurance within the presence of doubt.

Monday 27 April 2020


One may notice that some images may have appeared in previous posts, an intentional gesture as an image may inform within numerous perspectives: effectively, the strength of art history and for the author/beholder an offering of extended reading.

(Cursor on single image for detailed viewing)

Ledger, A Study in Esoterics
Stations #1: Travels through the Veil of Orpheus

(Thoughts considered during Covid 19 Pandemic)

Consider waking one morning without any sense of voice , language, structure, that all you have known is swallowed in a cloud of silenced unknowing. I have only genuinely realized this once in my life, remembering very little of its immediate texture. I have however by cause always enjoyed not just the meaning of language and words, but its, their texture, tone as in music, perhaps an appreciation for implied passage, a realization, an awareness of intuitive knowing. I can only imagine now from many years distance the void, that [silence] would encourage.

                                         An “I”s, eye’s perception without coherency yet a quiet urgency to construct.

The term ledger stems from the English dialect forms liggen or leggen, meaning "to lie or lay" (Dutch: liggen or leggen, German: liegen or legen); in sense it is adapted from the Dutch substantive legger, properly "a book laying or remaining regularly in one place". Originally, a ledger was a large volume of scripture or service book kept in one place in church and openly accessible. According to Charles Wriothesley's Chronicle (1538), "The curates should provide a booke of the bible in Englishe, of the largest volume, to be a ledger in the same church for the parishioners to read on."


                                                                                          Avicenna, "The Book of Healing"
                                                                                  (In for repair, Library Archives, Canada, 2018}

How a simple string of ceramic beads, represented in the original image, used to weigh  the pages down without causing damage, might proffer added insight, perhaps an understanding as to the true function of the "Book of Healing".

The Book of Healing (Arabic: کتاب الشفاء Kitāb al-Šhifāʾ, Latin: Sufficientia) is a scientific and philosophical encyclopedia written by Abu Ali ibn Sīna (Avicenna) from medieval Persia, near Bukhara in Maverounnahr. Also called The Cure it is intended to "cure" or "heal" ignorance of the soul. Despite its title, it is not concerned with medicine; Avicenna's earlier The Canon of Medicine in 5 volumes had been medical.
This book is Ibn Sina's major work on science and philosophy. He probably began to compose the al-Shifa in 1014, completed it around 1020,[1] and published it in 1027.[2][3]

The book is divided into four parts: logicnatural sciences, mathematics (a quadrivium of arithmetic, geometryastronomy, and music), and metaphysics.[3] It was influenced by ancient Greek philosophers, such as AristotleHellenistic thinkers such as Ptolemy, earlier Persian and Muslim scientists and philosophers such as Al-Kindi (Alkindus), Al-Farabi (Alfarabi) and Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī.


The common thread, a silent interior connecting these thoughts/ images might provide an empathy for continuity, passage, and, with an added  reference to metaphysics, abstract concepts concerned with knowing and being. It may also suggest the principles of contiguity, critical in our contemporary digital realm.

Esoteric thought is understood to be of a specialized or limited community, but can also be associated with or as an agent for introspective musing. It is directly associated with allegory and storytelling.

The anonymous Ledger submitted to Library Archives, Canada, 2017, for repair is in the traditional definition of a ledger, a regional catalog, registering transactions for reference and historical record. This catalog experienced serious damage, the result of aging and other circumstances. It however, also becomes a muse offering evidence not as fact but as a trace, vulnerable to conviction, certainty and loss..

                                                                                ( Drawings by Hilde Schreier)

With profound subtlety Joy Kogawa introduces the reader in "Obasan's" chapter 15, to a clarity of thought and experience garnered by anyone having experienced exile: that anonymous space wherein any previous archive becomes vulnerable and doubt reigns supreme. 

" I am SOMETIMES NOT CERTAIN WHETHER IT IS A CLUTTERED ATTIC in which I sit, a waiting room, a tunnel, a train. There is no beginning and no end to the forest, or the dust storm, no edge from which to know where the clearing begins. Here, in this familiar density, beneath this cloak, within this carapace, is the longing within the darkness."

Joy Kogawa, from "Obasan"
Exile, A Literary Quarterly
Volume 8 1 & 2

                                                                                            "terminus ad quem,"
                                                                           the point at which something ends or finishes

                                                                     Leaving Vienna Austria for Canada, circa; 1953

                                                                                    (from emigrant > immigrant)
                                                                     See Camera Obscura Post #1, January 21, 2016

( Note:

In the reading of the above image, 13..12..17, 11..38..33,  (the numbers indicate metadata time line of the photograph as day/month/year/ hour/minute/second), one becomes aware that the photograph "Am Schiff" was taken 64 years earlier, and yet as author of this work I am aware of the influence of time, one moment informing the other. Initially, I as a young boy would, as a senior artist 64 years later offer this layout within my body of work.)

      ( Cursor on image for referenced detail )
Details of a topographic map offering location, villages depth soundings of the St. Laurence river.

Index for Reading

  • To understand space in between
  • To question means to break, it means to set up on the inside and on the outside.
  • Does one first of all have to find oneself in a state of rupture?
  • Transition between textures.
  • Nuance resonated/resonance nuanced.
  • Ledger is about a loss of presence and its recognition: an oxymoron
  • To illustrate the experience of seeing and thinking.
  • The serendipity of an idea connected to work, in George Steiner's Bluebeard's Castle,an understanding that history informs the value of continuity and that trace is both of the tragic and the sublime.
  • A surface underscored by depth, the hidden and the implied, from the past, the present never attained, and future always speculative, where present is never present.

Movement within a still image always occurs at the edge of any of its elements. This is true for painting,printmaking, drawing and the reading of a book. It is the beholder's responsibility to connect, assisted by visual clues, gesture, color, perspective, associations that might occur between elements providing passage throughout the still work. Depending on associations that are made the visual passage may be between foreground, middle ground and distance, depth of field, movement vertical horizontal or left to right. Where texture and luminosity might imply the presence of a subsurface, the difference between glass ,air, and water. Then, the two associates, abstraction and objectivity may complete a profound rendering of containment.

Consider the reference to containment in the above image, whether the converging lines leading us to an anonymous conversation, the content of which is not revealed, the reading of a paper as one passes by and the presence of a chair inviting the beholder to rest for a moment, speculating for us what might be contained outside the frame. Body language and gesture might offer some insight, yet a rational narrative is not available. What is privileged remains.  If one is to view one of the elements listed above, what happens to our awareness of the presence of the other's insignificance? So it is through formal framing that hierarchy is established. Cursor on the image of the ledger and one becomes aware the depth of the surface of the paper as all marks as in a painting are effectively similarly registered. In concert, and  with the introduction of a glaze, the painter is able to separate and suggest the depth of an underlying space. It becomes clear that every element nurtured in an image embraces a portal offering a deeper and more profound reflection, identity.

"A brief glance... the speaker embraces voice: entr"acte.

She is encircled by silences, unanswered, incomplete and never pure. 
As the storyteller, she anticipates thought's final concert. 

And yet, 

she appears reluctant within this proscenium of solemnity 
as she reflects on a prospective ending 
to this conversation, 

although certainly her musings might confirm a shared experience. 

Offering both a celebration and its rejection, from the analytical to the sublime, 
from the privatized to the social and then to return,
 she understands that the remnant's of an actor's memory might garner 
further disturbances in reading. 

Nervous and wearied by silence's exacting pulse she begins.

Vienna, City of Thoughts
2010, Michael Schreier 

( Camera Obscura Post #20)

...from the heart's Eolian wind-song:
With ice blue tears, cloistered by the sounds of another's epoch,
 the most isolated individuals recognize that they must share  the same virtual  position, 
as they enter the act of the mind...
and then in the beginning and as the curtain rises, 
silence offers a portal to thought. 

Yet, and even then, it may occupy that nuanced moment resonant between reverie and word...

Tears for an Empty Desert
Michael Schreier, 2009


       (Hebrew, means pebble)

Sunday 27 October 2019

Commedia: towards an utterance for voice, with apologies to Dante.

( Click on selected image for a detailed view)

...But here I can't be silent; and by the notes
Of my Commedia, Reader, I do swear,
So that they might not be deprived of lasting fame,

I saw...

Inferno, XVI:124-30

... the narrator's assertion for something seen, could offer an awareness   
although, perhaps {embraced by some level of hubris}
a conviction towards truth.

                                " Utterance" = (a word or a drawing) = a sentence or a drawing?

Edmond Jabes, (From the Desert to the Word, Ecrit,Recit) plays with the meaning of "commentaire" simply by suggesting a reading of {comment taire} and in doing so reveals a much subtler implication, that in offering a commentary one silences previous meaning.  

Gerhard Richter`s drawing  "tisch" (table) reflects both a presence and a loss, an eliminated conversation, or traces from an unwritten tablet, reminisces of the Rauchenberg-Dekooning exploits into erasure. However, as erasure might play a critical role regarding current perspectives on evidence, objective thought and the authority of voice, and that history is not repeated but restructured, either for expediency or as an attempt at manipulative closure, than grace for wonder, thought and introspective musings will remain suspect or at the least vulnerable. 

Certainly humankind's challenge of complicity within a genocide of any kind, whether regional, national or global, and echoed in such events surrounding the Holocaust, Rwanda or national crisis, for example arising from America`s McCarthyism or Canada's own struggle with the aboriginal community regarding reconciliation might govern the vulnerability of reflective thought. One might consider that any such erasure would suggest an agency`s culpability.

Reconsidering Richter's "Tisch" from a more reasonable, gracious and perhaps even altruistic perspective, one can realize that any introduction of gesture within a work offers both an editing of and an extension towards meaning: initially embraced by the artist as a continuing and reflective conversation until the work's completion, and then by the beholder's subsequent recognition, reading and understanding.

It begs the very real question, what is the space of a work?

The boundaries of a work contrary to the motion picture, is finite, complete. Governed by its texture and even though during its production an artist/author may introduce additional subsequent gestures, the final work is a static amalgam of such. Primarily, reflective thought coordinates an artist's realization and as a work progresses its authority and autonomy is realized.

Thursday 3 January 2019

Post #20

(cursor on any image for detailed viewing,
all illustrations by Michael Schreier unless otherwise acknowledged.)

In Concert for the Silent Witness: ...an authorization to voice...

( note, to view Heath video, cursor on highlighted title.)

In the beginning of...Dave Heath, in concert for the silent witness,post#19... we are introduced to a family snapshot used by Dave Heath in the original poster for his seminal work, 
                                                             Le Grand album Ordinaire, 

                                              accompanied by Montaigne's famous quote
                                                 "We are all of the common herd,
                               ( et nous sommes tous du vulgaire)" .

While having encouraged our reflection into humanity's gesture he also proffered a singular understanding and appreciation for continuity.

Where however, does one initiate such a journey?

(See post #12, reference to Temes and boy in the doorway)

On May 3, 2016, 12:23 pm Dave Heath wrote:

i'm not sure my readings are astute.it is of interest that some find the work

"obfuscating". i do not find that so. for me, it is the density of your thinking which i often find difficult to enter.
you are more of a "philosopher",word oriented. thinking that is dense like celan, like the 20th century atonal music that you like. i have sometimes wondered if the structure of your thinking is based on the density of your first language, German. i have often wondered that the books from my library that you read from are books of ideas/words, of some poetry(celan, jabès) but not others, nothing from the visual books. i have long said that photographers enter the medium through one of two doors:text (for instance nathan, (lyons)) or visual aesthetic, (Weston, Edward)
to wit, from your blog:
i am more inclined to see clifford still in "temes"
walker's photo structurally is of clarity and precision, like the grid layouts of philly and manhattan...like his subway series "many are called" wherein the quotidian populace live "lives of quiet desperation. i took his photo as the basis of "beyond the gates of eden"
though I may often find it difficult to enter your thought, I have always thought you brilliant, continue the work as you live it

regards, dave

studio,Walker Evans,>temes

see:  Susan Blackmore Temes, Susan Blackmore

                                                            Clifford Still, 1944-N No 2

My answer:
May 3, 2016, 12:52 pm

Thank you for your kind thoughts and insight...I do read a great deal from the visual section of your library...it certainly sources/influences my work...but I suspect at this point in my life/thinking I am deeply involved with two specific notions, that of doubt and the other, an authority for voice. When I see the profundity of your insight, in your work, and others, I question whether I have anything of real substance to offer...Temes to me underscores a confusion that I have sometimes speculated is part of the "Story of Babel" for in that myth rests not only the notion of language but the privilege  to utterance and the struggle for source...What has always struck me about the Evans photograph and his work is the depth to which he goes in recognizing the integrity of the vernacular and the anonymous. I see the window display as a tower built on the subtlety of trace and individual gesture. I also certainly absorb Nathan's text and Weston's visual aesthetics but for me there is a much deeper reflection and that is the right to existence and continuity, that in my own being I find I am challenging. Similar to my experience when one has a deep sense of loss, the very nature of validity is challenged. I have no memory other than through the story's that my parents told me, of my early years in Vienna...and when I came to Canada I could not speak as I did not yet have the language,

                                                                     "schwimmen ohne worte"
                                                                    ( swimming without words )

...that little boy in the doorway...

is of me the first day that I could actually, in English tell and share with my father,  my day's events...previously and until that day, he would not listen if I spoke in German...the link to atonal music, to the theater of the absurd, my appreciation of DAda and my understanding of Duchamp's contribution and numerous other elements stem from these early ruminations. Out of coincidence, the first and only play that I directed...The Bald Soprano by Ionesco, was his first play that he wrote to learn English...the humor and contradictions are the result of that dilemma...I am also a deep fan of Clifford Still...currently listening to Arnold Schoenberg...I find your work "Beyond the Gates of Eden" a very quiet reference to the "Tower of Babel" and the, as you suggest, quiet desperation of lives attempting to garner voice...your insights have always fueled the very nature of what I do and on many levels you are one of the few who really understands....

with tender thoughts, always, Michael

In Genesis 11:1-9 the origin myth associated with the Tower of Babel illustrates that man's hubris to build a tower sufficiently tall to reach "glory" would have serious consequences. Any displacement of voice could result in a significant loss of appreciation for both place and continuity.

Could this be true for the self-imposed exile?

1. The Absent Museum

The dutch word "afwezig" translates as an absence and may be associated with my previous reference "umsiedlung," translated as a rupture in post #18. I would like to suggest that an absence, in which language is severed from its origin, although audible, would offer little refuge for the outsider. 

The Tower of Babel represented on an ancient Iraqi tablet with its companion, the origin myth suggest that each generation has embraced an understanding beyond it's pragmatics of circumstance. Approaching a higher perhaps even sacred calling, the creation of language and its ensuing celebration allowed for speculation and doubt, [while reliant upon the absorption of the immediate experience] a metaphor could encourage the discipline for storytelling; then enfranchised, language could rest concurrently with experience and knowledge.

In considering the photograph of the young boy in the doorway, can one substitute " in the beginning was the word " with " in the beginning was the sound ": a vibration, approaching an utterance, from the intuitive then embracing a suggested structure and finally, the sentence? Certainly this process would require time although the initial stages might affirm some sense of the original experience. 

Any play on language and metaphor might encourage an hierarchy of experience,between the sacred and profane: from a sensitive awareness towards a conscious although speculative thought towards the richness of wonder and the existential song. An original experience offers the presence of sound, temperature, texture, light, darkness, all governed by a sentience for the immediate, yet by its nature, fluid. One selects elements within this more complex reality, to be rationalized, translated and then objectified. So, while a sculpture invites physical passage, the moving image, film, music, live theater, dance etc all determine a beginning, middle and end, all of which governed through cadence and time, offer a point of entry and exit. The photograph and the painting however congeals all of this and while seemingly democratic, remains still. It is the beholder of the work, determining by his or her reading of specific nuance, that eventually guides oneself towards interpretation and understanding: as Wittgenstein has suggested, the Muse of Possibility or the Impossibility to Muse. 

                                                               ...from Babel to Museum...

Why should any of these ruminations be of consequence? They are present in any curricula dedicated to the celebration of voice. One is simply referring to an association  between perception, utterance and then understanding. I find however, that in the current climate of expediency, the immediate and problem solving there seems little room relegated towards genuine speculation, without which I suggest one would have little awareness of any cultural implications. and virtue. This, coupled with an overwhelming presence challenging truth in favor of fake news creates a profound climate for doubt. None of this is new as we have heard the discussion for the simulacra, a post-modern declaration that truth no longer exists; so if that is true, than how can one believe?!

    As I have previously suggested:

...for the poet, an "umsiedlung" is the necessary rupture in order 
to provide passage and to give value to both 
the exterior and interior identity; 

for the immigrant, refugee, and the exiled however, 
it is also the struggle for continuity 
a rightful urgency to belong.