Pictures and Poetry: The Bio-Domes


the sea and the sun

and the wind which shapes this world

cannot change your soul

God cannot tell you

who you are or what to do

flowers breathe and bloom

we are strong as rocks

no matter the size, each stone

is part of a whole


   I'd like to present to you some new work which I've been working on. Expect to see large prints of these pictures and other images dealing with the cohabitation of man and earth in the coming weeks, as well as show announcements for the Spring and Summer. The three photographs I've highlighted here were all taken in Milwaukee this February at the Mitchell Park Conservatory Bio-Domes. The domes are always an other-worldly experience - stark geometry contrasted by exotic natural beauty. This was made plain for us immediately upon entering. In flaming scarlet, a male Cardinal danced desperately with a female, the two separated by the glass and steel of the domes, doomed, yet determined, the sound of wings batting fruitlessly against the barrier sounding a subtle echo through the hum of the ventilation system.

Music for Humans: Toupee

Toupee live at The Empty Bottle on December 13, 2012

Toupee. All photographs: Michael Egon Schiele








Toupee: Chicago's Own Psychedelia

   It's funny how the holidays can eat up your time. It seems like only yesterday I was at the Empty Bottle watching local Chicago art-rockers Toupee weird it out. But, as it turns out, that was three weeks ago. Better late than never, though.

   Toupee has more in common with 1965 San Francisco psychedelia than they do with most of today's music, but they are able to bewitch the almost punk-sounding sensibilities of Jefferson Airplane into a very post-punk exhilaration.

   At times loud and churning, others whisper-delicate, Toupee crafts intelligent tunes of great variety and depth. They released a cassette onTeen River in the heart of 2012 and, from what I hear, are busy at work on a reworking of that material which they hope to see on vinyl in the future. Until then, follow the link above and stream their music on bandcamp and check out these photographs I took at their December 13, 2012 show at The Empty Bottle in Chicago, IL!

Equally Photographic: A Weekend of Shows

Altar of Plagues | Performing at Ultralounge | Chicago, IL | 2012

   I was lucky enough to see a few great acts perform over the weekend, which was already a busy one. On Friday night Altar of Plagues opened up for Chicago hometown heros The Atlas Moth at the Ultralounge. A tiny little club just north of The Congress Theater on Milwaukee, it provided the perfect atmosphere for a doom metal show. It was a wonderful night, one that Altar of Plagues came off as nothing short of devastating.


DJ LA*JESUS | Performing at Cobra Lounge | Chicago, IL | 2012

   The next evening we went out and were graced with DJ LA*JESUS and one-of-a-kind Dan Deacon. It was only a DJ show for Dan, goofing off with classic hip-hop, and off-putting rants against the establishment. That's right, fuck the man! DJ LA*JESUS was an silly-fun set, and much ass-shaking was enjoyed by all.


Dan Deacon | DJ Set at the Cobra Lounge | Chicago, IL | 2012

Equally Updated: Two New Projects On the Rise - 'Kindling: A Survey of the American West' and 'Heart of Chicago'

   Equally Empty Expeditions R E P O R T S

There's a lot of exciting things happening here at equally empty. First off, we'll be changing platforms in the next week. Squarespace has completely overhauled the way they do business, which is good for you, my reader, because it will enable features on our end to more practically handle issues as widespread and as simple as better incorporating Read More... elements, styling and organizing of photographs and their galleries, and adding Facebook 'Like" and Google '+1' elements. While we are very excited about these developments it also means added and unexpected work on this end. So, if things slow down a moment - no fear - we are just mired in migrating our system to a new platform.

   That said, we will be having a Report on the Dan Deacon concert this Saturday at The Cobra Lounge in Chicago. He's one of our favorite artists, and it is going to be a really fun evening. If you'd like to join the fun, follow the above link and get ya self a ticket.

Upcoming Projects:

   I'd also like to take this opportunity to introduce two upcoming projects - one just beginning, the other blossoming - that you'll begin to see more of in both gallery shows and photo zines. The first I'd like to introduce has been mentioned in this blog before. Our first Equally Empty Expedition, Felissia and I have returned from our explorations and have been hard at work synthesizing our collections. You'll be regularly seeing updates on Kindling: A Survey of the American West as we progress. The following photographs are a mere glimpse into the breadth of culture and geography studied by the team. All photographs are by m.e.s. (Michael Egon Schiele).

St. Croix River | Afton State Park, MN | 2012


McCleod, ND | Federal Grasslands | 2012


Black Rock Desert, NV | 2012


Bison | Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND | 2012


Pretty cool, huh? I'd also like to present the beginnings of a project about the community in Chicago I live, Pilsen. The working title for the project is 'Heart of Chicago' for the name of a small geographical section of the neighborhood. Both 'Heart of Chicago' and 'Kindling: A Survey of the American West' are planned to be published as small artbooks and hopefully accompanied by gallery shows. You will most definitely be updated. Thanks for looking!


Freight | 13th & Damen | Chicago, IL | 2012


Under Highway - 55 | Chicago, IL | 2012


Tracks | Chicago, IL | 2012


Chicago, IL | 2012


View from Highway 55 & Damen | Chicago, IL | 2012

Equally Artistic: Alec Soth & Brad Zellar Visit Ohio, Upstate New York

   Over at Alec Soth's tumblr The LBM Dispatch, Soth and his Little Brown Mushroom cohort Brad Zellar have been uploading dispatches from what will be their second newspaper, upstate. It is the second edition of a planned volume of four; the fantastic ohio being the first. Both are for sale, as well as a 'special edition' of ohio which comes signed in a hand bound portfolio featuring a tipped-in black-and-white print on the cover and a limited edition Alec Soth print. A subscription to all four special editions may also be purchased.

   Soth is no stranger to newsprint. His first foray The Last Days of W. published in 2008 was a fascinating, if sometimes aimless, attempt to capture a sense of the nation reeling from the presidencies of George W. Bush. Now sold-out, it was a success because it was fun and big, but it was affordable, accessible. It was a nice place for many of Soth's best pictures that didn't have a home anywhere else.

   With the LBM Dispatches, the newspaper idea has been refined and focused. The issues have purpose: documenting areas of describable character, we're able to fully immerse ourselves in what's happening. And unlike many photographic projects, we're not always constantly moving from town-to-town, state-to-state. We're affixed to a geographic region, where the people, while individuals, are all sculpted by the same winds and weathers, the same qualities of home.

   Further pushing the newspaper-ness of the project is Brad Zellar's reportage. The photographs in the LBM Dispatches are accompanied not so much by captions - describing or identifying the individuals and places - but by allegory; excerpts from conversations had and presumably recorded by Zellar, observations and comments are all used to offset the portraits with a glimpse of their actual, rather than preconceived, personalities.

The Special Edition of 'Ohio'   After all, photography is the false documentarian's art form. It records reality, but only what you let it see. One of its strengths is that even when the message is clear, photography leaves you somewhat uneasy, a little un-sure of something which you can't quite put your finger on. The moment hangs, waiting to resolve itself - because after all we are beings which exist through time - but never does.

   I think this is why pairing photography up with writing works so well. It's so universal, it's practically the basis for every newspaper, magazine, or internet story there's ever been (okay, so, I exaggerate). The way which we're able to understand more fully through two senses, compared to one, is more than two-fold. When, in ohio, GARY tells us he's been living inside his GMC van for the past three years or Bob W. from American Legion Post 110 in Toledo explains how his father gave him the lowdown: "Son, you've got four choices and you ain't gonna find the word university in front of or behind any of 'em," we begin to sympathize, put ourselves in their shoes. What's felt by looking at the portraits is stronger after reading their comments, knowing them if even by some infinitesimal degree. And by becoming involved with the subjects we become involved with the work.


Pages 18 - 19 from 'ohio' by: Alec Soth & Brad Zellar; Little Brown Mushroom, 2012. 

   While Zellar memorably becomes inducted into the Clyde Moose Lodge, there is little intrusion upon their world. Ohio is left to be itself, the reportage more communitarian than journalism, which is good - the most unbiased and fair reporting is that least tainted by the one doing the reporting. I think this portrayal without judgement permeates the book like fog, coloring the scenes with memory and questions. All of the images in ohio and upstate are in black-and-white, and I wonder if Soth choose the medium to more properly conform with the idea of what a newspaper is. Like William Eggelston, Soth is known for his color photography and his early black-and-white work lacks the consistency of his color projects. Deftly printed, the images bloom on the newsprint with a rich creamy smoothness. Many of the prints are deep in the blacks, but with a wonderful delineation of values in the highlights. Due to this nature, many of the images fail to resonate online. Before I received my copy of ohio I was slightly disappointed when they appeared in blog form. Something about the nature of computer screens I believe - brightly back lit - leaves hollow what should be full.

   Nearly all of upstate has been posted onto the LBM Dispatch tumblr, but there is still a third of the publication to still go up, so check back for further material. It seems as if almost all of ohio is posted, including several photographs that aren't included in the newspaper. I would expect the same to be true for upstate. For my eye's worth though, check out the published newspapers. The prints are truly a wonder to behold, and stand up much nicer in the 11.5" X 15" format. I, for one, look forward to upstate and to where-ever lies ahead for Mr. Alec Soth and Mr. Brad Zellar.