Behind the Scenes



Before the match, I spent the week studying Naz's photography – absenter, Flickr & The Busy Life. The last link is his shared work with Jen.

I considered subject matter, tone, and composition, figuring since this was a photography match, I'd have either an object or horizon to work with...

The night before, Naz wins the coin toss and chooses to serve. (How dare he?!)

I dig into the archives of Layer Tennis and get a sense of how these things went down.

The Internet Archive is slow:
Here are the serves from 2001-2007.

I decided to try and make images on the spot, only delving into the back catalogue of photos when necessary.

I also decided take whatever Naz served, put it into a real context, then photograph it. Print it, project it, or put it on a TV. That sort of thing.

I got an adapter for my laptop to run video out (along with a headband) the night before.

The day of the match, I made a test shot with current lighting conditions—putting one of Naz's photos on the tube, kinda tilting it to align with the background horizon. (figure a.)

I figured there were a few narratives this game could take:
- Country vs City
- Partial vegetarian vs Meats & Corn Syrup
- Bear vs Bicyclist (thanks for that Benschomatic)
- Unknown

I plan out the 15 minute time limit:
- 5 minutes to think and set-up
- 5 minutes for photography
- 5 minutes to tweak in Photoshop and upload.

I think I'm ready.













figure a.prematch


The serve arrives and (I think it's safe to reveal) there is a back-channel set up to handle the nuts and bolts of the match. We're coordinating delivery of images with Coudal, and anwering questionns to Rosecrans using Campfire. I've never used this online app before, but it's better than instant messaging for group chat. Really.

The weeks of anticipation boil down to this: A Golden Toilet (volley 1.)

It's one of many favorite photos I've seen of Naz's. It's gritty, tonal, sharp, and has a lovely horizontal plane I can work with.

I tilt the photo and fill in the rest (figure b.), ready for the TV sitting out in the field with a really long powercord.

volley 1.Volley 1

figure b.resource
The image displayed on the TV.


We're on. I have my model, the lovely Garrett, pour out a bottle of water while facing away from the camera, holding the TV. (volley 2. raw)

Some folks say, no fair, you had help.

He was a model. I swear.

He wasn't allowed to eat for a week. His mind? Mush.

volley 2 raw.volley 2

Naz comes back with Flat Stanley.

This is left field. Must. Think.

I have no idea who Stanley is, but I have Google...


volley 3.Volley 3

...And a printer, set up and ready just in case.

I print out the fella and stick him on a meaty pencil (figure c.), ready to do something. I figure I'll use the tractor—I had Tom pull it out of the barn that morning. I know it can be used in a variety of perspectives.

I take a bunch of shots for a triptych. (Naz inadvertently gave me the idea over beer a few weeks before, but also refused to talk about our match at length.)

The resulting volley 4 came to be.

figure c.4


Dagnabbit, another hit from left field. He left Stanley behind for the most part and touched on the rural theme. Hmmm, tractor still in the game.

It's time to take it into the city.

volley 5.volley 5



I dig out a photo of Chicago from Naz: The Veins of the City. I wanted to use Layers of a City just for the title, but the perspective was off for my needs.

I ran out and took a photo of the tractor in what I was hoping was roughly the right perspective (figure d.), knocked it out and layered it up—adding a bird for some continuity. It became volley 6.

figure d.volley 06 resource


Naz hits back. I feel thwarted, but he mentions Optimus Prime. Was he subconsciously referencing my iPhone wallpapers?

Optimus presides over my desk.


volley 7.volley 07

I print out the text, crumple it, and take a photo with the leader of the Autobots outside. (figure e.)

And this, this is where hindsight comes into play. I wished I would have used more elements from the previous rounds. A few days later, I would make this redo for Volley 8. There's a link to the original there.

figure e. 8


Naz goes left, way left, and I'm left contend with with Luke and Vader.

volley 9.volley 9

I'll project the Lego® fellas like a movie and photograph Optimus and the flat guy in front of it MST3K style. I had the projector out in the barn facing a Joan Jett and the black hearts billboard (don't ask). The long extension cord comes in handy again.

Sadly Joan had to be cropped out, but that's how it ended.

Not mentioned: The buckets of sweat from running around the studio/farm. The burn of ache from my legs the following day.

figure f.10

More questions? Just ask.

Until then, check out Layer Tennis every Friday.

This week's match should be most awesome, with Marian Bantjes vs Armin Vit and commentary by Heather "Dooce" Armstrong. This one will be lobbing Illustrator files back and forth, should be extra good.