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Showing posts from December, 2011

Walking backwards

Robert Mapplethorpe

Back in the early 80's it was hard not to be impressed by Robert Mapplethorpe.  His images were everywhere.  He had both a unique vision and a level of technical ability which appealed widely, even to the mainstream art world.  The few detractors who insisted his work was pornographic were largely ignored by anyone with enough judgement to recognize deviancy had been transmuted into something of bold formal beauty.

Mapplethorpe, who died of AIDS in 1989, also made self-portraits.  I like his make up and hair in this one.

It seems so long ago.  Does anyone pursue a similar line of enquiry now?

I had got some new high heeled shoes (off eBay) and a few items of clothes (charity shops and a Chrissy pressie) so prepped for a dressing up shoot today.  Starting yesterday, of course, as it takes soooOOoooo long to get ready - and there would be very limited time with such weak winter daylight coming into the spare bedroom (with its blinds down).  Maybe a couple of hours at best.  I set my…

The journey in

Sunday was freezing but with dream-like bright sunshine.  Being so close to the shortest day the shadows even in mid afternoon were stretching far away. The blue sky looked like it was summer while five layers of clothing was just about enough to bear the cold. 

A lecturer on my course (long ago) had insisted that the Topographics style of photography was defined by the steeply overhead light (of the American mid-west), and that particular look could not be re-created in Britain - a couple of us tried adapting it to our higher lattitude and our damp island air.  But he had a point.  On Sunday the fierceness of the light was enough to appear to be burning up certain angles of objects while leaving other parts utterly lost in shadow - it was severe and wonderful and I felt as close as I've come to aligning what I could do with a camera to something I had loved in Lewis Baltz's New Topographics.  Oddly I was minded in particular of his winter series  'Maryland' (1976)  w…

Siemens 2

New Topographics photographers in America and Germany in the 1970's had different approaches to their landscape photography.  For instance, Lewis Baltz and the Bechers were  both documenting transformation of environment but the former was critical and Bernd and Hilla were not.  Personally I was surprised to find myself feeling an emotional reaction when being up close where there had been fresh destruction of fields and woodlands to make way for new development. But ideologically I do not regard my photographing of it to be a comment on it, but instead just an observation of the appearance of major transformation.  I found Baltz's work extraordinary but eventually weakened somewhat by his declared position when I discovered it.  I had actually been stimulated by his lack of sentimentality in his approach (compared to Ansel Adams et al) with images that I thought were not dictating a viewpoint to me.  Similarly photographers like Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus revealed so muc…

The Zone

Andre Tarkovsky - STALKER (1979)

Entering damaged, off-limits land, for me, replicates the impenetrable mystery and melancholy of The Zone in the Russian film STALKER.  Today I was constantly in mind of it and even with the anxiousness of being somewhere both forbidden and terribly despoiled, it felt meaningful to be there.



Having used Google's satellite images to plan a possible back-door route in to the 90 acre development six miles outside town I discovered a limitation of assessing a path viewed from space - as from ground level they might have a tall security fence across it, right in front of you.  Luckily they don't expect someone to improvise enough to make a half mile diversion through a marshy wood full of brambles and fording a ditch at the one spot passable, along a railway line, between some flooded old quarries and and finally over a hill of former landfill, now punctured with HSO2 vents and associated piping.  But that was the way in. I'd set off late (had planned to go tomorrow) so the sun was setting as I finally started to approach the work.

The site I specifically had wanted to get a look at turns out to have been security fenced all the way around - so there was not much of a result there but another big development - the relocation from the city of Siemens manufacturing w…

Inside Outside (feat. feet)

2 am: someone else's spare bedroom

Day Out Out

Yesterday was a good day.  Up long before dawn to travel down to London, drop off my print at the Quarters Cafe in Highgate and go off and get ready for the opening of the Uncertain States show there that evening.  I've been a bit to-ing and fro-ing about going cross-dressed but as I had enough time to get ready properly I felt I had no excuse.  Fear wasn't sufficient to stop me doing it. Only when I was walking down the street to the train station and not quite certain of my centre of gravity in boots with high heels that I felt a bit less sure I'd get through.  And once on the train and heading back into London did it cross my mind I was getting further and further away from the safety of male clothes left behind.  It's the sort of hint of panic reminscent of extremely embarrasing situtations experienced in dreams sometimes in one's life.  When you feel vulnerable.

As it is winter the evening's are dark which means a little less scrutiny than at other times w…

Richard Ansett portraits with flowers

The TV series 'My Transexual Summer' which just finished last week was essential viewing for me.  It was respectful and insightful although at times the anxiety it induced was quite intense - but so too was the sense of liberation and joy as people learned to accept themselves and face their fears.  I just discovered Richard Ansett - who is curating a show next year which I have a chance of being included in - took a series of stills of the participants.  I might get to say hello to him next Tuesday at the Uncertain States venue launch and have a word about them  I see they continue an approach he developed whle working at a hospital in the Ukraine recently.


PhotoBox are an online photo printing service that let you turn off 'auto adjustments' in your account preferences - this means that the file you upload is printed without any 'helpful fixing' on their part, of exposure or colour.  They are super-cheap and fast, too.

So, being in a hurry and not having much success with my inkjet printing I gave them a go.  The print quality is very good, they use Fuji archival paper and there is good detail and clean colour (which appears a little cooler than on my eMac which is currently calibrated for Blurb book making).  There is also very accurate positioning in the center of the paper.  The only negative I can spot is that they fall short of a 255 white, there is a slightly creamy off-white base.  It's only noticeably when fitted within an ultra-white mounting board.  The matt surface is smart, looking more contemporary than gloss, which I also tried.  So I'm very impressed - and they are faster and more economical than a…