an imagemaker at large

from letters to Nicky Pickles

Hey Nick —
I photographed you rolling your enormous tape ball in Central Park a few weeks back & just got home to Los Angeles and got done cutting a small video — attached — hope you like it — I’m still tweaking a few things, so I’ll send along any changes as I make them — I may hit you up for some pickles a little later too — it’s a valuable thing to know a pickle man — best wishes, Mitch

Nick Horman and the Tape Ball from MB Maher on Vimeo.


Mitch — you really preserved the moment of this piece ;)

Thank you so much, that video ROCKS!!! Let me know what pickles tickle your fancy, and I’ll have UPS fly them to you. Do you mind if I share this video? Also, I’d like to include it in the tape ball exhibit- with proper acknowledgment of course. Your support, and participation in this piece is exactly the spirit I wanted to evoke in the world.

Nicky Pickles


Hey Nick — really glad you liked the video work — of course you can share as much as you like, the work is yours — what happened to the tape ball? split in two? cleaved down the middle & photographed as a specimen? let me know what projects you have planned in future — you’ve piqued my interest. i was shooting with an old 1973 35mm olympus lens, not tilt-shift as you suggest — this is just what happens when the camera operator can’t pull focus fast enough to track real life — strange image blurs & saturations take place — i think the subject matter becomes a little more tactile because of it — the viewer is more conscious of space & distance to camera. anyway, if you need the raw footage for your exhibit, let me know & i can post you a DVD. as far as your pickles are concerned, i’m curious about your sweet cajun & spicy sour, but i yield to your judgement in this
matter — let me know which pickle would suit me best — what does your brining operation look like, exactly? next time i’m in NY, i’d love to photograph you at work. more soon, Mitch


Mitch — I haven’t thought of the ball’s fate as that of a specimen, but since I consider this piece as much an experiment as it is a performance, that makes perfect sense. What drove me to cut it is the impetus of curiosity. I think that your filming style is more true to human perception than typical approaches, in that it respects the blurry fringes and the focus of our attention.

I can send you spicy sours, no problem. Perhaps I can put together a sample pack of sorts. Let me know your address :) You have an lifetime admission to the pickle factory. It’s a magical wonderland that I dare not denigrate through a linguistic description. I think photography would suit it better. haha.

Nicky Pickles


Nick you are as good as your word! The pickles have arrived and they are glorious! (I like the mustard the best so far.) We will wear your shirts proudly during all waterballoon fights, picnics, morning jogs, car washes by hand, and all other public moments. We are currently at work on creative integration of your star pickles into a gin cocktail of epic heft and briney impact. Will share results. Serious about seeing pickle factory next time I’m in town — my best to you & Bia — you guys rock — yours, Mitch

from a letter to Jason

That little lens is dying. I knew when I got it so cheap from the blackmarketeer that its days were numbered. Scratches on the coating & great divots in the glass from a sharp fall circa 1985. I gave it my own fall earlier this year in Marin — fell from the height of a pretty girl’s waist — hardly any velocity at all, you’d think. The Japanese made these things out of steel in the late 70s, I always forget — camera landed face down & that little lens shot thru the body of my Canon like a torpedo. The camera died on the spot (2002, 3,700 USD) and the lens showed no damage (1977, 175 USD).

Now I can hear a rattling inside the barrel. One of the glass elements is coming out of place — god knows what took it so long. The center of the frame swirls now like an Ensor canvas and there’s no way to predict where the focus will fall.

This isn’t the lens I take on jobs — this is the lens that looks at my life. Am I cutting my nose to spite my metaphor? Is an ersatz swing/tilt rig really what I need? Don’t I already obscure enough?

This is the letter I’m writing instead of working on my website. I can’t finish this carrot cake either. First time in my life I’ve
turned down cream cheese frosting. I’ll have them wrap it for you. Stand by. m