Mark Hahn Photography

Artist Website

Digital Sales – My New CD Available Now

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While physical CDs will not be available for another two weeks, digital pre-sales are available now from bandcamp.com now (https://markhahn.bandcamp.com/)! For the first week of pre-sales, I am giving my friends here and on facebook a 50% off discount on anything sold through bandcamp — just enter discount code “friends” to get the discount. I also want to thank everyone who has been supporting my creative endeavors up until now and wish everyone a Happy New Year!

PS  I did the cover photography and layout.

Photography and Spatial Memory

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We lose the memories of many specific moments that shape us into the people we become. There are too many details to hold onto so we’re left with the incompleteness of abstract emotions that have been imprinted in our mind through experience. As a photographer, rediscovering the spaces of these imprints can be meaningful exploration – shedding light into who we are and how we’ve gotten to wherever we ended up.

Exploring abandoned domestic spaces lets us construct temporary structures that allow us to experience some of our orphaned emotional memories that have nothing else to attach themselves to. To a certain degree, we all share the same common basic human needs and live in similar domestic environments designed to meet those needs. Viewing these spaces as they fall into varying degrees of ruin can trigger memory based deja vu. It doesn’t matter that the space is not technically our own, in fact the response can be even more powerful because it isn’t our own. Sometimes the possible is much more exciting or troubling than what has actually happened. The connections we uncover often broaden our emotional responses.

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If we can imagine that we have been somewhere in our past, even though it is not from our literal past, the feelings stirred up can be veryy real. Feelings are what count most in life, not the explicit objects we associate them with. If we can allow ourselves to feel our past memories while standing in a found-space we can sometimes sew together the discontinuities that have been left within ourselves. Without a mirror to reflect and fortify the self-image that we have created in life, we can sometimes feel ourselves as just who we are – including all the pain, the satisfaction and the insecurities. It is the spark of existence that makes us who we are, not the objects we surround ourselves with or the accomplishments we stack up and brag about over our lifetime.

Art photography can give us a doorway into discovering our abstract internal spaces. It’s another way of connecting with what is already there within us. Unlike the other arts though, photography is limited by reality. Reality is our artist’s medium – we create our work from what is real and discoverable. One of my photography professors started out his class saying, “If nothing else, after taking this course, you will come out possessing another way of seeing.” This is the true gift of photography. When you are really successful, others can see something new and personal through your work as well.

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Trespassing into the wreckage of other people’s past lives often puts you in touch with the residue of all our collective pasts. None of us is really as special as we feel. The act of trespassing into someone’s abandoned home is of course legally questionable, but probably more problematic in an ethical sense since in essence, we are acting as thieves — appropriating what at one time was inside someone else’s personal boundaries and using it for our own creative purposes. Legal issues aside, I believe as long as the original occupants are not identified or exploited, that appropriating scenes from their abandoned spaces to use as a vehicle of expression of my own emotional memories is not terribly problematic.

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Many things cannot be created from scratch, they need to be discovered. When you trespass into the unknown, you are already on hyper-alert. You don’t know what or who you will encounter when you turn a blind corner. You can make you feel both fear and excitement. Fear of the unknown in the form of danger and excitement in the endless possibility of discovery.

Excitement and happiness are easily understand, but fear is an ancient emotion residing in the amygdala – hidden somewhere in the deepest and most primitive part of our brain. Fear ties our earliest memories and emotions to the present moment. At the edge of a fight-or-flight reaction we take in our surroundings differently than under normal circumstances. We move quickly through a space, sizing up our surroundings. Certain things trigger an emotional response. Pow! Snap! You catch it in your viewfinder.

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Literal objects trigger expected memories. For me, when I see an old pack of Chesterfields lying on the ground in some abandoned place I remember that my grandfather smoked them. It is a predictable response. Sometimes though, when I run across the right combination of elements – perhaps a special light playing of wood paneling in an abandoned kitchen, I can momentarily imagine what it felt like to be with him. I can hear his voice and smell the bacon cooking from when he made me breakfast in the morning. I can’t predict these memory triggers since they are so abstract in nature, but the memories and emotions that come from them can be so immediate and direct that the triggers must be set somewhere in the depths of my mind.

Memories lie deeper than the scraps of paper that we collect – more than the two dimensional photos and birthday cards that we save and accidentally leave in the houses we vacate. Memories are inscribed into our minds in multidimensional space with complex connections that even we cannot decipher. Lists and dates are just simple data points. The wholeness of memory is experienced through indescribable emotions, triggered by the unexpected. Depending on our ability to let go and open our eyes, we can find meaning in many different places.

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Solar Culture Gallery – Miami Walk

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Opening Saturday 3 October 2015

6-9 PM

My Photos on display:

Solar Culture Gallery is located at 31 East Toole Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85701

These are three photos from the last night walk we took in Miami, AZ. It is a special place to go for me. I can dream about moving into one of the small three room little wooden shacks on the side of the hill — life could be much simpler.

Miami is just down the road from Claypool (where the Shamrock Bar is located). The Elvis room is further down Highway 60 in the El Ray Motel up in Globe.

All things connect in some way. This is a song I wrote about the Globe/Miami area:

For more information, contact Mark Hahn at markhahn2000@gmail.com.

All images and content copyrighted 2016 by Mark Hahn with all rights reserved.

Lucky Strike – My Music CD available now!

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My music CD, Lucky Strike, is available for ordering now! It can be found on Amazon or through my eStore: https://www.createspace.com/2291080. Digital sales are going through Bandcamp: https://markhahn.bandcamp.com/releases. Supporting independent artists can make you feel good, and if you’re interested, you might like my songs, so check them out. Uncompressed mastered tracks sound way better than my youtube posts or what bandcamp streams. Thanks all for support!

 Back cover:

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The photos and layout were done by me. Background on the cover photo is that it a “bridge” that my youngest son built when he was very young. We were exploring Sabino Canyon (here in Tucson) together and he built this structure before we both jumped into the stream for a cold swim. The back cover is from an abandoned trailer park, shot through the tattered screen.

It Ain’t Me Babe – I’m Not There

Reposting this to my artist website for the discussion on being an artist.

Guitar vs. Meds

In I’m Not There, Todd Haynes explores the spaces between inspiration and hopelessness in a film based on the life and trials of Bob Dylan. Clearly, Dylan was a casualty of his early runaway fame and the expectations placed on him because of it – while in the process, transformed by the public into a commodity instead of a person. The tragedy is of course that Dylan chased his own fame in his early career, got what he was after, and then had it turn against him when he tried to evolve as a person and a musician. Fame is never free and fans end up feeling they own you for their support. The film is based on a patchwork of facets of Dylan at different periods in his life — and for this — he is portrayed by 6 different actors, including Cate Blanchett who probably does the best…

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Solar Culture Gallery – Forest Haven Asylum

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Opening Saturday 6 January 2015

6-9 PM

My Photos on display:

Solar Culture Gallery is located at 31 East Toole Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85701

These are three photos from our trip to the Forest Haven Asylum in Laurel, MD. We spent three days inside these walls exploring the abandoned facility. After I finish my upcoming music CD project, I plan on releasing a book that will document the interior of Forest Haven and my emotional response to being there.

For more information, contact Mark Hahn at markhahn2000@gmail.com.

All images and content copyrighted 2015 by Mark Hahn with all rights reserved.

Drainage Ditch

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There are places that people just like going. Places that are nice to spend spare moments in and explore. This is a drainage ditch that is across the street from the Grease Monkey oil charge place that services my car. I hand them the keys and walk across the street to this land behind the Doughnut Wheel doughnut shop and a Fry’s supermarket. There is also a dollar store in the same plaza. I like climbing up and down the drainage ditch and exploring the area in behind the loading docks and the small houses in the nearby neighborhood. I don’t know why I like it so much, but it’s a place for me to feel momentarily free from all the crushing pressures of daily life. I took these photos the last time I had my car’s oil changed.

I rarely meet anyone in this place, but once when I was coming out I was swarmed by cops. They said the place was a common place for drug dealers to hang out. I laughed and said I had never seen anyone here. The most aggressive cop got in my face and asked me if I had been using drugs. I laughed and said, “I haven’t even had a beer for over twenty years!” He then told me to empty my pockets.

“I’m friends with a public defender who told me that you don’t have have submit to any search without a warrant,” I siad.

“See that drainage ditch, it’s all no trespassing! I can arrest you right now for just being in there!” the cop snarled at me.

“There’s not a single sign anywhere!” I said.

“There doesn’t have to be a sign! It’s city property!” the cop shouted.

“I’m pretty there have to be No Trespassing signs every 25 feet if it’s posted!” I snapped back.

At this point, the asshole cop grabbed me by the arm and said he was taking me in. He had the whole intimidation thing down pat. He liked it. Then he asked, “So what are you going to do if we find drugs in your pocket?”

I took this to be a threat that he could plant whatever he wanted on me and at that point there would nothing I could do about it.

Thankfully, at this moment, the “good cop” stepped up and asked in a nice voice, “What were you doing down there anyway?”

I pulled my out my camera and told him I was just taking photos. The good cop asked, “Taking photos of graffiti?”

I said, “Something like that.”

Good cop told me he had a friend that went out and did stuff like that.

Then the asshole cop interrupted, “You can either empty your pockets right here for me or we can haul you in and we’ll search you there.”

The good cop gave me a look that I took to mean, “Just do it, I can’t stop this asshole cop from doing what he’s going to do.”

I shrugged, “Once you put it that way,” and turned my pockets inside out. They were empty.

Asshole cop snarled, “Now get out of here before I run you in for trespassing.”

I glared at him and walked slowly back to pick up my car.

When I took these photos there were no cops in sight.

It Might Get Loud – For A New Guitar Player

I’m cross-posting this to my artist website because — while primarily about music — it is also about the creative process (and I compare the role of fetishization of musical equipment to photographic equipment).

Guitar vs. Meds

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So my girlfriend wanted to watch It Might Get Loud with me since we’ve been playing guitars together for a while and I had never seen it before. I passed it up when it was initially released (2008) because, frankly, I was never a huge fan of Jimmy Page, the Edge or Jack White. But now that I’ve picked up a guitar myself and have been playing for almost a year, I have more interest in what other guitarists have to say about playing, even if I don’t love their music.

It Might Get Loud is a documentary film with extensive personal interviews with these three musicians combined with footage of their past performances and history. They offer their thoughts on how they became leading guitar legends. The three’s experiences put together, span three generations in rock. It’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t been influenced by rock evolution somehow…

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Going Back For More

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It seems we always have to go back for the things we’ve forgotten. A pack of cigarettes, the mixer so we can drink the booze or the bits of candy that makes this life sweeter. Memories sit on dusty shelves in places we sometimes forget exist. The documents of life lie in piles on the floor, pouring out of boxes that were haphazardly packed away long ago. Sometime we forget that it’s us that gets to pick what we buy. What we pull off the self. So much in life we just do without recognizing the choices we have, even if they are limited.

This is the One Stop Market and Liquor Store located between Winkleman and Hayden. I photographed this abandoned convenience store several years ago and wrote an essay on the subject back then (Road to Ruin). We were passing by the site again recently and decided it’d be nice to just check out what had become of it. Just an informal visit – one lens, no tripod.

One of the side doors was unlocked and open. Things had changed. Things had been taken. The roof had fallen down. It was still the same place though. We thought of where we were at when we came the first time. All the things that had changed and had stayed the same. It’s amazing how we attach memories to things that are not ours. Things we pass through. Places we have been.

The One Stop Market is one of these. Sifting through the stuff left behind, looking for the things that have been lost and forgotten. Sometimes you find things you don’t want to find. It’s better to just keep moving. There are other things to see. Candy is better than booze and coffee better than cigarettes. It’s all there somewhere.

Landscape – Kelvin AZ

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Kelvin Arizona is a small unincorporated community north-west of Kerney. You can reach it either by Arizona Highway 177 or via the (mostly dirt) Florence-Kelvin Highway. After getting totally creeped out by the prisons and oppressive law enforcement that is present in Florence, we took the Florence-Kelvin Highway just to get out of Florence and away from people. This is how we stumbled onto Kelvin. The desert along this highway is desolate and beautiful. Kelvin is built along the Gila River and a railroad line servicing the nearby mining interests. By the banks of the Gila River is a lush flood plain that is dotted with a few old homes that have been either burned or flooded out. This is where these photos were taken.