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Showing posts from May, 2012

Tenderpixel Talk


Hi, I'm Pete and I took the landscape 'Trespass' series of photographs in the show.

Richard used an Arbus quote in his curator's statement, 'A photograph is a secret about a secret'. She was really good at quotes as well as a brilliant photographer. Although in her correspondence she referred to the transvestites she photographed as 'it' rather than 'he' or 'she'.  But I forgive her.  Well this series is about my secret and my secret language and this 15 minute video covers various aspects of that.

Transgender is a kind of identity trespassing. It only became an aspect of who I am about ten years ago.  Totally out of the blue.  I hadn't seen it coming.  But it was an epiphany to dress as a female for the first time, a kind of psychological liberation.  I felt I'd entered somewhere forbidden but also anticipated that there'd be a price to pay.  A swift descent into madness - transvestism is class…

SPF 30

Mobius strip

My nephew J came around today with his son as I was fixing a flat tyre on my motorbike in the back yard.  His son is about three years old, about the same age J was over 20 years ago when I was prepping another motorbike for a long trip and he'd come around regularly to watch and 'help out'.  For a moment it was like discovering I'd been travelling along a mobius strip all this time. Parents with their grandkids probably get that disorientation quite regularly.  It's not unpleasant.

I think Paul Graham probably owns the copyright to photographs of bricks.

Other camera

I forgotten I'd 'upgraded' (sort of) to a (refurbed) dSLR last month that I'd not used yet, so took it along tonight to use it for the first time.  The site near the bottom of my road has easy access at the moment through a metal fence panel that is not bolted to the surrounding sections (not sure why) and so it can be opened out to permit access.  I did have to wait for quarter of an hour to get in as it's a visible location from the first tee of a golf course and any golfer with a beady eye, a social conscience and a mobile phone would have been probably ringing the police as soon as I snuck in.  Or am I stereotyping golfers? There seemed to be a lot of them, that's for sure.  Eventually I got in.

I sort of based my exposures on a combination of the playback on the screen and the histogram, and still managed to fuck up most of the exposures.  It's a learning curve, I guess.  And my long time camera, a Sony R1, was silent (APS sized sensor but no mirror), …

OMG the best photography in the world gallery

I've got that dizzy overwhelmed feeling of 'wanting' something, or someone, too much. The Yossi Milo  gallery, so much photographic goodness it sort of hurts.  But in a swoony nice way.

(Andrew Bush)

Matthew Brandt at the Yossi Milo Gallery

This gallery has fast become the most exciting one for photography that I've ever seen.

Check out the current show of Matthew Brandt - where he uses elements from his locations as components of the image making process itself.

From the press release: 
Matthew Brandt creates his prints using physical elements from the subject itself. Inspired by landscape photography of the American West – especially its correlation to the methods of printing and making images during photography’s infancy in the mid-nineteenth century – the artist revives traditional photographic techniques through various production processes, including handmade papermaking and gum-bichromate. 
Whether soaking prints in water from the subject lake, or printing on paper that the artist made from the subject tree, or even using a pigment that the artist created from the subject (charcoal from the trees, gum-bichromate emulsion of honeybees), Brandt blurs the line between the photograph and the photographed. For his…

Yuki Onodera

There is something strange and enchanting about the work of photographer Yuki Onodera, enchanting in the original sense of the word.

Andres Serrano

I was talking about photographers with someone at the weekend and was surprised they hadn't heard of Andres Serrano.  His book 'America', a massive collection of his many difficult and distressing series, used to be available for just five to ten pounds from American Amazon marketplace sellers - the book was remaindered quite a lot there and slated by many politicians on the right (after 'Piss Christ' became notorious - recently destroyed in a gallery in France).  He is probably one of the most important photographers in the last 25 years.  And after looking through the book again in the last day or two maybe he is the one who for me laid it on the line and the result means the most - even if some of it is too overwhelming for me, as well.

He often challenged himself to do projects that meant he had to face his personal fears.  As a black photographer he surprisingly chose to make portraits of members of the Ku Klux Klan, for instance.  He also made images in a mo…

Guidance systems

I have been feeling flat about taking photos lately, the Tenderpixel show almost felt like a big full stop and it was over.  But today the weather was so warm and the evening light like the glow from a coal fire in winter, so inviting.  I went out for a walk and noticed that there was a gap in the fence of the building site at the bottom of my road big enough to walk through to get in.  Too good to miss, it will probably be sealed up tomorrow.

The camera battery only lasted half an hour but that was just about enough as the bright ember of sun slipped behind the tree-line leaving the hills of earth and rubble slumped into shadow.

Until fairly recently this used to be a missile guidance system factory and when we were growing up my mum was a cleaner there in the evenings.

Talking at Tenderpixel

I can just about manage a conversation with one other person at the best of times - so being asked to talk about my photography to 'random people', while stood at the front, saying stuff,  - well I was a bit worried.  I mumble so no-one was likely to hear me and after three sentences I anticipated my voice to go completely anyway (it happens occasionally) but being priviliged to have been included in a show meant it would be a mega-fail to say no to the invitation to speak.

Last week I watched a DVD on how to do public speaking.  It said it's normal to be scared.  So that was OK then.

I made a 15 minute DVD of video clips and stills a few days before so there would at least be something to distract people with as I melted into a puddle of ineptness on the floor.  And the evening before I rehearsed.  Several times.  Until I nearly lost my voice. 

Richard Ansett, loving curator, and marvellous Liam and Etan and Stella at the gallery were all terrific, professional and suppo…

Baked potato face

Yesterday was the day of the Tenderpixel 'I Love You' opening and I felt ill all day.  Maybe psychological.  Maybe biological.  Deffo physical when I 'super-shaved' and my face was so scorched by the extra hot water and the multiple attack triple-bladed efforts to look smooth skinned and stubble-free without piling on coverstick and foundation that immediately I resembled a baked potato (that had been in the oven too long).  Or more accurately an over-cooked baked potato that had just been spat from a volcano and was still dripping with lava. At best it looked like I had gone totally mad with blusher.  At best.

Huge, deep, gratitude to the people who came along for me and to Richard and everyone at Tenderpixel who were all wonderful, supportive and kind.  The emotion that I felt most often was a sense of privilege to be there.

And to the people who lived too far away, you were very much there in my thoughts : )

Studio 2 (someone else's spare bedroom)

It's a bonus to have the use of someone else's spare bedroom when visiting.  Unlike the one I use for dressing up shoots at home which has nothing in it (apart from a wardrobe full of clothes in one corner) this one actually has a bed, useful for sleep but also as a 'stage' for away from home photo-shoots.  There is a tiny mantlepiece by the bed on which I can just balance my digicam, and with the wide angle setting I can get just enough of the room in to use as my performance space.  Using the self-timer and long exposures mean low light is not a problem.

The off-white and tan tones of the wall, the window blind, the bed headboard and the duvet are nicely muted.  It is mostly minimal and yet with enough hints of imperfect reality to be percievable as an authentic space rather than an installed one.

Matter and anti-matter in photography

I recently watched five hours of 'Is Photography Over', a conference held at SFMOMA in 2010.  They had a panel of big hitters from the photography world.  The videos are helpfully archived on the 1000 Words Photography Magazine blog, which you can find here.

It's great viewing if you are into that kind of thing.  It was like watching matter and anti-matter come unexpectedly close together and threaten to destroy the whole universe at any moment.  It was a memorable meeting of big-rep gunfighters who had all turned up at the only saloon in town to share stories to an eager public, and while nobody got killed it was definitely a case of six guns were soon cocked and ready.

The most obvious line of contention was one that has existed in the medium since early days and which has evolved into modernist -v- post-moderninst / or observational (someone used the word documentary which was then fine-tuned to 'descriptive') -v- conceptual / or photographers -v- artists / or v…

Late film

Away from home and after a hard day digging up the garden to sort out an overflowing gutter on the roof of Kate's house - clay soakaway fail -  and she's gone to bed after wine and cake and I'm up late watching 'Cold Weather', a lo budget indie movie with people doing nothing with their lives in a humdrum, overcast Oregon and as nothing happens and nothing is said sometimes there is some soft and sadly sparkling indie instrumental music with clumsy cute xylophone which gives meaning to their lives.  It reminds me a  bit of Jim Jarmusch's 'Strangers In Paradise' and even involves a mystery suitcase.

I don't have to go to work tomorrow.  It's kind of a perfect moment staying up late.


I'm away from home for a few days and took my camera along on a trip to the local supermarket - Sainsburys - to take photos of their own brand value range products, called BASICS.  I was using a slightly larger digicam than I have previously taken along for these store shoots.  It was still a small camera but it felt very conspicuous in use and eventually security arrived to insist that I desist. I know there is no point in arguing but I still find myself explaining that I wasn't taking pictures of people only the products, so why is it a problem?'  Maybe I imagine they will throw in the towel and apologise for disturbing me. But no.  No. No. No.

The guy was very pleasant, more puzzled that I was asking for clarification than anything and finding that he had to resort to two groundless points that even while he was saying them (with quiet assurance) he must have been thinking 'my mates will think I'm a total div coming out with this crap'.  His reasons for stop…