Monday, May 20, 2013

Who is Sean Lotman? Just some connected scion of wannabe artist nepotism?

I'ts going to take some time to sort through the obscure clutter about Mr. Lotman on the Internet,  but I have gone through a substantial amount of info, so I'm updating this, but it will need further work as time permits. It's not a priority, mind you, but another blip on the radar, one that just happens to jibe with an slight influx of LA-style hipster cretins I've noted of late.

According to this article 
by Kris Kosaka (who?) 
he's a famous writer and photographer. Apparently he even lives near my neighborhood, though he must keep a very low profile because I haven't seen him around.

The problem is, of course, that he is practically a non-published, non-entity in the world of letters.  Yet the Japan Times article states the following.

Moving to Tokyo in spring 2003, he taught English for three months before he made enough connections to support himself fully with modeling or writing.
So one may wonder, why does he have such a fatuously promotional writeup in a national newspaper?  

It just so happens that Mr. Lotman is married to a woman whose family has a noodle shop very close to my neighborhood, but maybe they don't live in that building, because as mentioned above, I haven't ever seen the guy.

Here are a couple of other passages of that caught my attention in the Japan Times article.

Much of his fiction reveals this instinct. "My writing is usually about Americans in other cultures. When I am traveling, I am often thinking about or interpreting my reactions to a place through an imagined character."
Papua New Guinea, Myanmar, Nepal, Mongolia; Lotman has to stop for a breath before he's halfway through his list of places yet unexplored. "I'm interested in countries where you really let yourself go and your safety zone dissolves. It's that feeling of adaptation coming on, when you feel yourself becoming part of a new environment, part of an unfamiliar tableaux. I like being startled."
Is it just me or do others note a contradiction in the above statements. 
His first photography collection, "Wanderlust," was published two years ago.
Here is a link detailing that overblown "collection", half of which is by his wife, who, while basically still in the process of building a repertoire and reputation as a photopgrapher, is more accomplished (and employed) than he.

Another description of the aforementioned collection is found here
and includes the following passage.

Sean Lotman, a native of Los Angeles, moved to Japan in 2003, living in Tokyo until last year. His writing and photography have appeared in or are forthcoming in Grey Sparrow, Fogged Clarity, Fringe, WOOF!, Reunion and Ragazine. He writes and shoots for TRANSIT, a national Japanese travel magazine and his first photo book, Wanderlust, was published by Snappp! in 2011. Sean lives in Kyoto, Japan... 
I haven't gone through all the so-called "publications" on the above list, but I have gone through a number on a list posted below. The only of these predominately online media that would seem to pay for submitted work is Transit, but as described below, he appears to have contributed to only two issues of that magazine, and only text, in 2011. That makes the following passage from the Japan Times sound like nothing more than hyped up false promotion.
Over the past few years, he has built up an array of publishers, both online and print, for his short fiction, adding Transit, a popular Japanese travel glossy, which publishes his fiction alongside photographs.
There are are some pieces with his by-line, such as a series of interviews and the like, in the following obscure magazine published by foreigners only, apparently, in Japan, er, no, Oregon USA:

Here is an interesting photo credited only to HESO STAFF, which I find somewhat curious. Are they communists or artists? It would appear that they are trying to earn a living off of their pretensions:

The magazine apparently is in print, and with no advertising! That is ideal, of course, but how do they afford to do that in this market? "User supported" by the proceeds from sales of printed copies?

Did some of them simply fail in Japan, so returned to Oregon yet continue to devote their energies almost exclusively to topics on Japan? 

Or is it the case that perhaps Oregon enables them to keep a low profile, off the radar of someone like myself, until the Japan Times prints a ludicrous article about one of the affiliated individuals.

In conclusion, the dubious characteristics unveiled in the forgoing analysis have opened up an expansive horizon of doubt in my mind as to the status of the magazine HESO and its contributors in the real world. 

At any rate, perhaps I should have a look into some of the other contributors to that suspect device of a magazine. 

Again, what country is this phone number in?
HESO Magazine

That would appear to be in Oregon, ye Olde USA!
Japan Culture Mag focusing on Humanism in Photography, Music, Film & Gastronomy

Another individual contributing to that magazine
wrote this review of Sean's wife's family noodle establishment:
and this:

Here is another look at some of the credits he credits himself with on his own website. As can be seen, most of the websites are relatively new, with the oldest being established in 2007.

The Dirty Napkin is an online literary journal that was created in August 2007.
The Diverse Arts Project is an online literary journal and art/cultural space. The DAP Journal, No. 1. Fall 2011. Published September 23, 2011.
Literati Magazine is a literary magazine catering to the young, indie, urban reader…started…in 2009
Marco Polo is an online literary and art magazine. During the summer of 2010, Marco Polo debuted as a quarterly. 
By incorporating music and visual arts Fogged Clarity aims to transcend the conventions of a typical literary journal. The first issue was released in 2009.
LPV is an online and print magazine dedicated to contemporary documentary and fine art photography. The first issue was released in 2011.

I've looked at some of the writing but don't have anything interesting to say about it, because I didn't find anything particularly noteworthy.

In the Japan Times article, Mr. Lotman is quoted as stating:

 "I work with Transit and my trips are often sponsored, so I am really lucky." 
It promotes his wife's photography:
The website for the "magazine" has no company information; however, I have been able to determine that it is a legitimate publication put out by Kodansha.

Amazon Japan search of Transit:
Ariko images from Morocco (#9 (2010)) , West Coast (#14 (2011)), and Turkey (#15 (2011)) with Sean Lotman contributing text to issues nos. 14 and 15
Ariko image from India (#12 (2011))
Ariko credit for photography on Northern Europe, Denmark section

As far as I can tell, Ariko (her 'pen name') has contributed photography to five issues starting in 2010, and Mr. Lotman text to two issues in 2011. While not insignificant for Ariko, it would appear to be far from what could be considered full-time employment for Mr. Lotman, with only two contributions of text in 2011.

In a comment posted to an article by another contributor to HESO,
Mr. Lotman mentions the CIA and KGB:
Your beard/ cap/ jacket/ shades is looking very CIA. Perhaps there will be some KGB agents sharing your bunk. Be prepared for massive drinking. I've heard the marathon drinking sessions are something else.
That individual only goes by the name "Brett", which seems almost as strange as crediting photos to "HESO staff". I did find this online blurb
about him, which appears to repeat the information claimed by Manny Santiago here
about starting the magazine (except he dates it to 2001) and other things, including "Sugardisaster Photography", which Mr. Santiago claims to have started while a student at UCSB in 1996.  
Mr. Santiago is also an ordained minister, apparently, of an esoteric sect, which only turns up the following google result
and on the subpage on his linked in page
He states:
We work for peace, not money.
Here's the latest on that individual:

On that page there is a link to (another?) photographers network:
And though some of the contributors don't show their faces, the following chain of links turned up a little more information on "Brett".

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