Casual Observer
Entries In Joe Gioias Digital Notebook

Casual Observer

Rome, Italy, July 3, 2001.
Photos © 2002, Joe Gioia, All Rights Reserved

If you're a photographer, this is what you do.

It doesn't matter if you've drifted away from taking pictures, or turned your back, or burned out while trying to break through. One day you remember how interested you were in digital, and how you said that when the 2-megapixel line intersected the $500 line, you'd buy a digital camera. So in April, 2000, you purchase an Olympus C2020 and begin taking visual notes about your life. Soon you're carrying the little camera everywhere.

Minneapolis, December 13, 2000.

Then in January, 2001, you start posting the pictures to your web site. You may put up three or four photos of a single day; sometimes a day yields no images at all.

No matter.

A year later you create a separate site for these photos. Inspired by Greil Marcus' book, Invisible Republic, you call the site Visible Republic. Visit

Minneapolis, September 30, 2001.

When someone says that the unanswered questions and suggested lives in the pictures remind him of Raymond Carver short stories, and then says that you've created art, you say that you set out only to photograph your life. You say that the ideal viewer of these pictures is someone who is awake at three in morning, that Visible Republic is a refuge for insomniacs.

You cite influences, especially Walker Evans, especially his subway photos. You say that if Andre Kertesz were alive today he'd be shooting with a digital camera.

Minneapolis, January 13, 2002.

You believe that this is what digital and the web do best. You're surprised so few people are doing it.

But if you're a photographer, it's what you do.

--Barry Tanenbaum

Joe Gioia lives in Minneapolis. Visible Republic is at Greil Marcus' book has been reissued with a new title: The Old, Weird America.