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Jacques Tati

Jacques Tati

The Genius

The Genius

100% Genius –  100% Fool

If you like reading about strange celebrities this book is a must – Mine cost three pounds including postage, there are plenty to be found on the ABE Books web site.

Book Cover

Book Cover

I suspect some will not know who Tati was.  Jacques was a mime artist who managed to bring his art to the French cinema.  He made six films which have to be considered as unique – The School Postman – Jour de Fete – Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday – My Uncle – Playtime – Traffic – A sextet of strange mysteries, interesting, confusing, funny, sad, as you watch the films they seem to be without fixed story.  I feel his films are social commentaries, observation of the human crisis which is inadequacy, lack of confidence, bewilderment and ignorance.

The principal character in each film may be given differing names within each script but all who watch, know in some ‘psychic‘ way they are watching Jacques Tati‘s loneliness, spirit, soul and questioning mind. He has a name, Mr Hulot. There is no doubt many will find a resonance with actual life.  The struggle to live in a right way, doing the very best we can and circumstance takes away hope and inspiration.  When attempting to discover why failure follows failure, debt compounds debt, relationships dissolve, we realise the truth is there is no reason for the setbacks other than life itself.  Mr Hulot is a man who seems to be in the wrong place, needing to act in the right way and each desire to succeed is cruelly snatched away.

On Set

On Set

Tati tried to bury Hulot, fans adored the kind imbecile.  So unique and powerful is the character, either liked or disliked, none who watch him forget him.

Tati‘s early films made substantial amounts of money and due to contractual arguments for some years the profits were held by the French courts.  This changed in the early sixties and the Frenchman became a very wealthy man.  An award of an Oscar in 1958 for best foreign film (My Uncle – Mon Oncle) gave him cult status in France and its fair to say that from this marker the man became aloof, arrogant and selfish.

With an incredible income arising from the royalties from his work he began to make almost unbelievable errors of judgement.  As one ploughs through the book (I read it in two days) the incredible stupidity overwhelms the artist, actor, writer, director’s work and achievements.  Poor investment, the buying of the rights to numerous silent movies which he wanted to renew by adding new soundtracks.  An interesting concept which never materialised.  He invested in various other film ventures which failed to see the projector’s lamp.  Beginning project after project without completion and constant procrastination with employees over new films and scripts.  Many of the employees left him, due to low wages and lacking of respect.  Tati never forgave anyone who left his organisation.  His lack of forgiveness became dislike or even hatred for people who supported and inspired him.  The inevitable result was as he slipped down the ladder, there were none to help him when he hit the ground.

Playtime

Each of the bricks to his folly were worth their weight in gold and would sink him like divers’ lead weights.  Its name Playtime –  a 124 minute film which took three years and 17 million francs to produce.  During the filming he fell out with practically everyone, he fell foul of the financial backers and made the most monumental mistakes.

At the planning stages he appointed a designer to plan the set who, after considering Tati‘s requirement, suggested that rather than build a film set of the two skyscrapers needed, it would cost the same to build actual buildings, use them for the film and then sell them at a substantial profit at the end of the project.  The great man would have none of it.  His choice was to rent a large area of waste land on the outskirts of Paris (earmarked for the new Parisian ring road) and then build two massive fake high-rise office blocks, complete with roads, traffic lights and roundabouts, damned with ill-fortune (his whole life was a series of setbacks) the first disaster came as heavy winds blew the structures down. Tati filmed it on 70mm wide angle film stock, a poor choice, the process is expensive, difficult to film and, believe it or not, difficult to watch.

I should write that the choice of 70mm panoramic film had a long term consequence as it makes it difficult to produce good video or later, DVD copies. This would not have been a consideration for Tati at the time. What was, was the full impact of the style of filming was either not accepted or properly explored by Tati – Watching a 70mm panoramic film is not well suited to movie stories, the viewers’ 46 degree angle of ‘focused’ vision makes watching the panoramic (as opposed to wide screen) film a tennis match affair!  70mm works well for long shots, landscape and fixed conversation documentary, any subject where the audience become deeply involved with a slow moving and factual subject will benefit. Fast moving story line simply does not work.  The viewers look to the right of the screen to see one detail and miss the information on the left!

A life long desire to make everything his way and an almost psychotic obsession with perfection, costs time, money, friends and the success of the film.  When the money ran out he deceived his mother out of her home and family savings, his sister of her family inheritance, he borrowed from, and as a consequence lost, most of his friends.  The betrayal of his wife, an affair with the principal actress sealed the maestro’s reputation as thief, con artist, deceiver, no one trusted or respected him.  The film was released and …. disaster.  With no American distributer to be found the inevitable indignity awaited like the sleeping snakes venomous fangs.  Bankruptcy.

Tati

Tati

All is lost, film rights to earlier films, the large mansion, possessions and commercial property – In his darkest night there were three lights – His wife and two children, goodness knows how or why they supported Jacques Tati.  One can only speculate as to how his mother coped with losing so much –  His sister was supported by her husband, however what should have been a very comfortable retirement for her turned into years of difficulty and worry.

Jacques Tati was an artistic genius.  He created incredible stories and by using a difficult acting technique – mime – he captivated audiences the world over.  He failed to realise his formula had a sell by date.  What’s more, he believed his artistic genius to be mirrored in his business acumen.  Stubborn, arrogant, difficult, Jacques Tati was simply unable to take criticism or advice.

The story is nearly over.  His last film – Traffic – was a reflection of his life.  In the film the ‘star’ Mr Hulot has a product – a camper van –  which needs to be delivered to a motor show in Amsterdam.  The film follows the hopeless journey with delays, setbacks, accidents.  The inevitable outcome is that the show is over by the time they arrive and for Tati the show was indeed over, critics slated the film.

This writer sees Tati’s work as unique.  Yes, there are those who copied the style.  There is only one Jacques Tati.  PlayTime and Traffic (Trafic) may have received poor notices at the time of their release, however, today I can only see them as wonders of artistic experimentation.  The films need to be revisited, each viewing gives a little more information.  Each an observation of the minutiae of the human character.  Laugh with them and you will laugh at yourself.

Don't Look Back

Don’t Look Back

Its easy to call Tati a fool, I’m not sure he was, preferring to think of him as a blinkered genius, like some many human beings believing their success is proof of their intelligence, genius and higher position on the ladder of society.

The book?  Brilliant and worthy of any film lover’s book shelf.

Next Time ‘Photo Exhibition’

If You Cannot Do It – Review It

If You Cannot Do It – Review It

Don’t believe that old chestnut.  Its as appetising as a Jammy Oliver healthy option meal deal, it looks okay until you unwrap it and realise the ingredients are as fake as a celebrity smile.  I can take a picture and I’ve written a few words. I enjoy creative art. So why not write a few words on my thoughts on pictures at an exhibition.

ART?  Its the artist’s outward expression of their inner feeling.  And this expression is open to interpretation by the voyeur.  The effect the art or a collection of artistic works has upon the reader, viewer, listener, taster becomes the… like, indifference, dislike of the object, picture, food, display.

I enjoy the exhibitions presented by the Nottingham Contemporary (have a look at nottinghamcontemporary.org ).  The gallery/art centre has great merit and is, to my eyes, a beautiful building.  The angles of the walls and roof beg to be photographed.  The building is on three levels, it’s three giant concrete and fibre glass boxes set upon a fairly steep hill, one side tram lines the other flights of steps which give a feeling of depth and importance to the modern design.  This is as it should be, the building is a centre for human expression and the design fulfills it’s purpose with a potent dominance of the landscape.  It is an asset to the city.

Nottingham Contemporary

Nottingham Contemporary

A recent exhibition ‘Rights of Nature’ took the visitor to Madagascar and The South American Rain forest.  Videos, pictures and interviews with the native South American Indians who recorded their almost hopeless plight against the companies and governments who have stolen their land.  The magnificence of this work of collected injustice has stained my memory with the ignorance of greed.  I revisited this exhibition four times, it effected me so deeply.  What an incredible statement it made. I cannot review it in full as it is past and would only whet the appetite for a dish no longer available.  I write of it to give a little balance to my feeling of…

The Present Exhibition 

Glenn Ligon –  Encounters and Collisions 

The four galleries contain a collection of art put together by the artist Glenn Ligon.  His work has interested me for many years, it’s vibrant, strong and leaves you in no doubt as to the artis’ts purpose.  How could it?  Many of the abstract pictures are written statements, almost or possible manifestoes of his determination to reveal his inner being.  My emotions are effected as I read the words, some are aggressive, determined, highlighting racism, poverty and justifying the anger of those who are oppressed.  His work must be a guiding light to ANY race or minority who has been or is subject to the mindless cruelty of the racist, bigot, dictator or idiot.  He’s a genius, a great artist.

He wrote compassionate letters to many artists asking if he could borrow pieces of their work for an exhibition –  You can read these letters at the Contemporary –  I believe these are a deep insight into Ligon’s personality and should be considered an important starting point to the two or three hours needed to get the most from a visit.  Take an hour to wander, go to the small restaurant have a glass of wine or a coffee then return to revisit the selected works seems to work well for this writer.

The two looped black and white films should be the first stop.   Watching them gives a feeling of ‘era‘ and the ‘atmosphere‘ of the foundations of the exhibition… America of the 1960’s.  Think about the juxtaposition of these two loops.  Same time.  Differing ideas – art and revolution – aspects of a country alive with crazy and abstract ideas and crazy and real anger and insight to violence.  I begin to ask is Ligon for or against the use of force to effect change.  That’s the point here isn’t it?  If the artist has assembled statements which have effected him, what is he attempting to reveal?  His deep feelings and resonance of the imagery must surely have a specific purpose.  I realized the complexity of Ligon’s psyche, he’s an exceptional creative being.

I began to wonder if he is asking for an apology or making a declaration.  A declaration?  Yes, Is his statement?  “You.  YES YOU. You see, read, watch, listen to what I have to say. I’m a minority in what was once a minority. I’m going to be acknowledged.”

The visitor either sees ‘Encounters and Collisions’ as an assembly of artists’ work and takes the opportunity to view each one on its own merit OR they realise they are within a masterpiece of work.  It does warrant the word ‘masterpiece’ for Ligon has taken each artist’s work and used each to produce a powerful and effective work of art.  This exhibition should be viewed as a whole not as a fragmented assembly of individual imagery.  I entered the Contemporary on my second visit with the intent to view ‘Encounters and Collisions’ as an accumulation of sensory stimulation.  I sat drinking my glass of wine mid viewing and I realized this was a terrific artistic experience.

You will need to visit to piece the jigsaw together.  Indeed there is pleasure and pain in many of the photographs.  Confusion and questioning awaits.  For example, any large canvas painted in a solitary colour will dampen enthusiasm – (There’s nothing new in the single coloured canvas – Tate Modern’s ‘Monochrome White Painting’ by Li Yuan-Chia’ is a ? too! ) I know there is a statement in there somewhere, so far it has evaded me.

I wrote this first part of the review two weeks ago and made a third visit on the 16th of April as I wanted to review my notes before tapping out a few comments on the items which resonated with my emotions.

And something happened…

No Photos

No Photos

‘NO PHOTOGRAPHY in the exhibition’  – The instruction had troubled me on my two prior visits –  I had already wondered if the sign is there due to insecurity, greed or small minded selfishness – I don’t really have the definitive answer. I suspect there is a fear someone may steal an idea or two, who knows? Who cares? Clearly Ligon does.  Does this stop sign imply there is an unseen aspect of the New Yorker? I begin to ask more questions.  Should an artist encourage another to experiment with their work? Songs are often copied, guitar riffs reused, song lines distorted.  Is art a declaration of freedom?  It is! A conduit to free speech and expression?  It is! If there’s a story to be told, write it, if there is a record to be made make it, a picture to be taken, take it, a speech to record, tape it.  Art encourages free thinking.  No Photography?  Two words that stifle freedom to record, review, remember.  No Photography!   What, in a art centre?  A centre of freedom, a building which contains imagery which should be without censorship.  Still, I have seen it before and am never able to resolve it.  Copyright and profit are part of the need for greed, why should art be any exception?

As I enjoyed my third visit, an employee could see I carried my note book and a 35mm film camera.  He came over to me and declared “You are NOT allowed to take photographs in the exhibition.”  I looked into his eyes and replied “I’ve read the signs and respect the instruction.”

The employee ruined it, an unstoppable wrecking ball, smashing the illusion, forcing me to rethink my review of Ligon’s assembly of art. I had been duped by Ligon’s successful assembly of powerful expressions of freedom.  The video loops, photographs, canvases, the rebellion, neon signs, a project – I’d incorrectly assessed it and of course it is an assembly of art, full stop.  “No Photography” is control, fear of theft of intellectual property, its a castigation, restriction.  The two words were given life by the guide. I questioned my original interpretation of the purpose of the exhibition. Which I felt encompassed freedom of speech, the censor’s opinion and the fight for human rights. Once the guide questioned my integrity, the exhibition dissolved into a random assembly of images.  He enforced, took over, saw me as deceiver, potential thief of intellectual property.  He was guardian, storm-trooper, black band around his arm terrorist. – “No Photography” =  No freedom here.  I think of artists murdered by Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and Mao Zedong, you think me extreme? Think again.

If the guide had not questioned my integrity – I would have been pleased within my appraisal of Ligon’s exhibition.  I am now thankful he made me aware of the undercurrent, the nod of the head to violence, the use of fear to control, the celebration of force and threat to achieve supremacy and revenge.  This is how I see it all now, and all due to two words.

Later, I discovered the ‘moment’ had another effect.  When I look at Glenn Ligon’s work I see one word ‘Imprisonment’.  Why imprisonment? Its the opposite to freedom.  I had falsely believed him to be a freedom fighter, whose weapon is canvas and paint, paper and ink, words and prose.  I think of him now as opportunist, manipulator, illusionist.

This blog is an experiment in writing – Not an experiment in reviewing or criticism.

Pentax Pictures

A few pictures taken with Pentax S1a  –  Lenses used 28mm f3.5 or 50mm f2.0 – Normal service will return very soon!

Foma 100 film + ID11 dev

Foma 100 film + ID11 dev + 50mm

Foma 100 film + ID11 dev

Foma 100 film + ID11 dev + 28mm

Foma 100 film + ID11 dev

Foma 100 film + ID11 dev + 28mm

Foma 100 film + ID11 dev

Foma 100 film + ID11 dev + 28mm

These picture show the resolving ability of the SMC Takumar’s quite well – The scanner is able to capture the grain and when printed using a Epson R3000 the results are truly exceptional –  I have not had time to ‘silver’ print the negatives, although I wonder if its worth the effort as the subjects and images may not benefit from the Dev + Stop + Fix process.  Sometimes the ‘hybrid’ silver/digital provides sufficient information and ‘feel’ for the subject.

My next blog will be a review of Glenn Ligon’s exhibition at the Nottingham Contemporary Gallery.

Old Pentax Theme

 

 

A continuation of the Old Pentax Theme the 3 pictures below are taken with the SMC lens and there is a full review to follow.

Pentax 50mm Jeweller's Shop

Pentax 50mm Jeweller’s Shop

Nottingham Contemporary

Nottingham Contemporary

Dome Through Gate

Dome Through Gate

A Camera Without Film

S1a + Weston

S1a + Weston

A Camera Without Film Still Hold’s Memories

I wrote that a while ago I destroyed thousands of images, negatives and trannies.  I regret this act of material memory annihilation.  If the archive still existed I would edit the thousands of ‘clicks’ and many would be in the trash bin. All faces would be dissolved.  A few would be reprinted.  Scanned.  Shared.

Even without ‘proofs’, some images exist in a fogging mind.

Ford Cortina on Swanage Pier.  La Spirotechnique diving cylinders.  Omega 828 boat.  Blue Bedford truck’s 244N and 963K.  A seven-bedroom white house full of family nightmares.  A beautiful young girl on a Brazilian beach (who later became someone else).  An embarrassing cricket match.  The impossible rugby football kick.  John’s Moto Guzzi 850.  Kawasaki’s. Ektachrome film.  Holidays in The Med. Atlantic crossings.  Canberra.  Iberia. Half of the P&O Fleet.  School skiing holidays in Italy.  Volvo 164’s.  Mercedes Sports.  B.M.W 3.0Csi.

Weston Euro - Master

Weston Euro – Master

The Pentax S1a and Weston exposure meter.  55mm f2.0 lens.  In my bag.  Every time.  Everywhere.  Ektachrome.  Kodachrome.  Plus-X.  Tri-X.  No batteries required.  Sharp as pin images meaning nothing.  Soft as marsh mellow piccie’s worth more than gold.

Here is my S1a  Not the original – someone else’s – now mine – over the next few weeks it is my image taker.  Camera to Film to Scanner – And for the 35mm film user… a review of the camera.

Come In 165 Your Time IS Now

Come In 1653560 Your Time IS Now

Thought or question.

If material images are lost –  And one’s eyes see an object.  Can the object become the catalyst and provoke the memory to resurrect the images of the past?  Yes, it can.  Although, I feel the past is never worth revisiting.  It’s a stagnant man who holds the nonsenses of his pasts like trophies.  A man who lives is driven by the certainty of the final sleep, which drives him toward the future’s horizon.

In 1962 Asahi Pentax gave the S1a camera to the world.  An expensive camera and as good as ANY camera made in the era. Camera number 165360, the one you see in the pictures is 50 years old.  Never seen a service technicians screwdriver.  The lens could benefit from lubrication (in a month it will be sent for a full service) – The price of camera – lens – and meter? £28 (Jan 2015)  When new it was £77 the average weekly wage was £20.  At today’s prices its a grand or more camera!  For the next few weeks, they will be in my bag.  Focussing the light onto film to record my seen world.

Pentax Price List

The lens is more important than the camera?  Without the camera, the lens is an engine without fuel.  We are recording vessels.  Alive, we are everything.  In the final sleep, nothing.

Remember, I’m musing.  This blog goes anywhere, it has no purpose.  Camera review = Short story.  Essay about my none existent dog = Story.   A news item = Story.  Gossip about a 14-year-olds drunken night with two waiters = Story.  Mother condoning same 14-year-old daughters sexual relationship with her employee = Story.  The same girl grows up and runs away with violent truck driver = Story. Girl dead = No more story.  And the brain ‘expert’ written about in another book is revealed to be a night club doorman. Now there IS another story in that brainy bore.

The camera = Memory recorder.

Film/Memory = Human interest.

What happens if we sit in a field. No phone, internet, communication?  Are you able to view your world and connect to it?  Love it?  Be with it?  Understand that this world feeds you?  Is the population obsessed with recording everything because there is a hidden certainty that the world as we know it now will be remembered as heaven?  And the populous of the future will hold us in contempt?   Shout out to your great-grandchildren “Look at these images – this is what we ruined. Be happy, we gave/made for you – your life of hell”.

Hey! Jack – I’ve nearly got my Pentax back.

Weston Euro- Master

Weston Euro- Master

Let us measure the light –  Let’s Play….

Liar

See Truth

See Truth

Fulfilling Faults

A No One in a World of Billions.

Truth.

A cigarette. An excess of alcohol. A mind fogged. Why am I here.  What is this fool talking about?  The world would say ?  Nothing.  Because there is nothing to say.  What do you care?  About your next door neighbour. Or a so named best friend.

Someone, ruining me on their night of revenge.  A stranger, liar, deceiver.

No thing? What will remain? If this liar’s sword takes me.  Yes – Questions.  No – Questions.  Questions without answers. Lie’s – Questions. Police – Questions?

They asked…Why would you keep the ticket? Why would you take the photograph?  Why would you write down what is said?  And I say to the social protector called law enforcer… ‘Because I do’  And his lies, his need to be a social proclaimer, need to be a social adjuster, need to be..the law. Not an upholder of the law says.. ‘I don’t believe you’

Anger swells in my being.

‘What? You thief of dignity?  I AM talking to you in Truth. Truth. Truth. Truth.  You have failed to solve the crime and now blame the innocent.  Win at all costs. One failure has degraded all of your victories.  And I ask myself if you have ever been fair to anyone.  Malicious man of hate.

This is my now compromised reality.  Those who who uphold the law, find all in their world guilty.  They force the innocent into crime. Turn the truthful into liars.

This is the madness of situation. Circumstance. Wrong place – Wrong time – Why was I born? And no friends now.

Everyone who wants to succeed feeds upon the success of those already in success.  The majority believe success is an island worth living on.  And, take the risk ignore the danger and enter the maelstrom. Soon they believe they are winners with the illusional trophy named ‘Success’ –  In truth they raise the garland of a fool.  There is a possibility of real integrity, somewhere, and this liar, this officer of law has placed my view of truth beyond the horizon, there is only storms and darkness ahead.  How many stories of innocents languishing in prisons are fact?

A liar accuses – Ruins all and blames the victim.

All for what?  Nothing!  Life now becomes a series of lies.

An essay of the madness I felt when being accused by a police officer of a crime I could not have committed.

Who Need’s A Grandee Camera?

Fuji STX - 28 and 50mm Fujinon Lens's

Fuji STX – 28 and 50mm Fujinon Lens’s

Who needs a Grandee camera?

Writing is all about Exposing Ones Thoughts.

See – Think – Reason – Note – Write – Explain – Write Again.

Never limit oneself because of false belief – The Superior Inferior – The critic.

Its a poor man who listens to the – KNOW All – Must have a Pelican Pen or Leica.  They say.. “I’ve got it you have not.  I’m superior by the evidence of my ability to acquire and possess”   Many know ‘em, watch ‘em and some will despise them. Do you read the superior reviews of the German product and think ‘I must have?  It will make my pictures’  Shame on you if you do. A camera never made a picture.  A pen never made a writer.

Those who are able to afford top glass are a minority – Those of who save, save, save, for top glass are to be admired for their endeavour and will the camera make the picture great?

Fujinon 50mm f1.6

Fujinon 50mm f1.6

The answer is – No.

Every picture in this blog was taken with a £10 second hand Lumix or the Fujica STX with Fujinar 28mm f2.8 and 50mm f1.6 lens’s.  I paid £125 for the camera and 2 lens’s – Some of you who like filmwork will say I over paid.  I’m sure did not, the camera and lens’s are as new and as you will soon discover,  the ability of the 35 year old camera system to capture a fantastic image is amazing.  You couldn’t buy a third of the cheapest Leica R series lens for the price of this trio.

Lets look at the hybrid darkroom –  Cost?  £15 for the tank and thermometer’s and the big expense a £180 Plustek scanner.  Even so. The total is still less than a Leica R 50mm lens.

Film Tank and Chemicals

Film Tank and Chemicals

I use Foma 100 film, £4 a roll and the chemistry works out at £1 per film developed.  I’ll not show you how as there’ many web sites demonstrating the process – For those who are interested I use ID11 developer –  stop bath and fixer are Ilford although I’ll be using Foma chemicals in the near future.

Fomapan 100

Fomapan 100

The Hybrid Darkroom is so simple, compact and can be used in day light!

Scanner? No! Digital Enlarger

Scanner? No! Digital Enlarger

A stolen washing bowl and pre mixed chemistry – (Tesco wash aid IS brilliant for the final wash)  2 old thermometers – I time the process with my iPhone – That’s all that’s needed.

Chemicals Being Tempered in the Water Bath

Chemicals Being Tempered in the Water Bath

A Pilot pen and a note book are the two basic tools which turn my thoughts into material readability.  The camera does something similar. It turns an/the image seen and conceived into visible reality. And I feel the more I keep to the original recording, the purer it is.  If there are flaws in the image I will leave them in.  Unlike the the first draft of a book which always needs work.  The image on the negative is made at the gentle press of the shutter.  The equipment used between the moment of exposure and the revealing of the final image is a mystery to master.  The use of film make the photographer a Magician in his laboratory, no longer does he need a darkroom, his changing bag and developing tank take care of the one problem. every thing else takes place in daylight.  The hybrid darkroom makes filmwork more accessible than it ever was.

Its not too difficult to do and this make it frustrating as you inevitably fail to make the impression you desire.  And because you attempt to discover what works, you look to the opinion of others! Resist this.  Create what is right for you.  Keep playing with words and images until you feel comfortable with your creation.

Analogue photography makes you THINK about how you are constructing the final image.  Filmwork and writing are perfect parallels – Its not to difficult to get the paragraphs – chapters – and final draft to flow. All you do is do it.

It's Easy to Keep Your Cool In The Hybrid Darkroom

It’s Easy to Keep Your Cool In The Hybrid Darkroom

Note books.  Word play.  Taking a chance with words and twisting the innuendo of the meaning is my favourite aspect of writing. Like the way a musician adapts the timbre of a musical score.  The writer and the photographer should be like a cheeky and mischievous child.  Let her drive the reader crazy and make the reader love the timbre of the writing like the parent loves the happy and excited child.  Make the pictures form words in the mind.

The 35mm camera and monochrome film take the process into the past, there is work involved.  The film camera is The Maginot Line it runs out of ammunition and is firmly rooted in the past designs.  No large company will take the process any further.  Thats the magic of it, the artists tool, the scythe which harvests the crop.

The digital adversary is a Panzer Division – Modern, powerful and relentless in its desire to WIN. A iPhone will produce a more efficient snap shot than any chemist shop processor ever could. A digital camera is like a Blitzkrieg it overwhelms and takes control. Your working with outmoded equipment when film is the drug.

Call Box 28mm Fujinon

Call Box 28mm Fujinon

The chemicals in hair dye are more complex than developer – stop bath and fixer!  Look at the pictures of the equipment used, nothing more complex than a developing tank which holds the film in the chemicals. And for all of this, it is the process which separated the artist/professional film photographer of the past from the snap shot guy who became disillusioned with the results.  Today you record the digital image and the result is excellent.  So the world takes pictures, records events and shares them.  This is no bad thing.  The evidence of videos and pictures and the ability to record the ‘moment’ with consummate ease.  Makes the deceivers life difficult.  Watch out politicians.

The snap shot taker records what everyone else see’s.  The artist see’s the detail and draws other people attention to it.  Digital camera – Phone camera – Images on the Internet – FaceBook Pictures – Pintrest – Flickr – Blog –  billions of images, words, ideas, creative excellence, mind numbing non-sense.  Why? What do we desire to share?  Why do we record – distort – create and then feel our work is not good enough!  The old grannies picture of her grand daughter is more beautiful and worth more to her than ANY Picasso.  The great image captives – hold memories – entices the imagination and can be of ANY subject.  Some will love it.  Many will not.

You don’t need a Grandee Camera – There is no need to worry about the tools.  Learn the process and make adjustments until you find what is YOUR right.  Whatever direction you take, love your work.  Its your reflection of your world.

Shoe Box 28mm Fujinon

Shoe Box 28mm Fujinon

It seems to me there is a fine line between excess and simplicity. As artists we learn about ourselves when we look at the chains of words or the different aspects of each picture, taken, drawn or painted.

So many wish to enforce rules which have no true guidance – And the sheep follow them – Should the picture be sharp?  The bokeh important?  The lens angle or choice right or wrong?  Not in my creations.  I produce what I like and spit in the eye of the critic or rule maker, I’m here the break the rules and if this means I lose a few followers on the way, I know I’m making progress.

The pictures taken with the Fujica are excellent when printed.  The pictures you see on this blog are sized for speed of download – Take my word for it the negatives when viewed through the loupe are as good as any I’ve ever looked at – The STX  – 28mm and 50mm lens’s are excellent.

Prints and Loupe

Prints and Loupe

This Blog is dedicated to my friend Julie Semper who’s life was tragically taken from her last week.

 

 

If A Caveman Owned A Camera

Council House - Press Style

Council House – Press Style

If A Caveman Owned A camera

Its inevitable.  I have to write about old companions.  Leica.  Nikon.  Canon.  Pentax.  Fujica.  So important to me each needs a full stop not a comma.  There’s a hierarchy in the names on the pentaprisms.

And.

The Kingdoms made by the well known photographers through their images, seem to me, to become muddy swamps which hold photographers back from their individual style.  As is the non sense of finding comparison’s with one’s style of work to another’s work.

BANG! Here I go.

If you watch Don MacCullin on his new Canon Sponsored video, where he uses digital cameras, he talks about photographers being at fault when they are ‘peeking’ (looking at the images taken) He says its wrong – well – it is to him – not to the millions who do it!

I feel we are all the better for looking at what we’ve recorded ON THE SPOT when its hot.

The computer I’m writing on.  The scales which horrify me as I stand on them.  The urine test holding the sinister truth.  Are all tests or evidence which guide to make changes.

Or are we fools?  Maybe we are on a holiday of a life time, an important composition has been recorded and it can be checked on the cameras screen. Then, because we’ve listened to MacCullin’s expert tutorial we say within our mind… ‘Oh! No! Big Don the ‘expert’ says this is not what photographers do.  I’ll trust to him.  NOT my internal golden triangle pythagorean theory expertise, that MY inner being seem’s to sense… Or does Big Dom the Profiteer of blood knows best? – He is after all the all seeing know all EyE’ 

No big D’s wrong….

Hey! We haven’t all been scarred by war nightmare’s and he wasn’t there for peanut’s was he?  Your right I will leave him alone.

I wrote about the the worship of idols elsewhere this week.  There is little point in wasting time re-visiting 600 word essays, so, I’ll continue.

I’ve no interest in the style or methods of other photographers.  The artisan should refine his art into uniqueness and the plagiarism of other work is restrictive to progression.  Its worth repeating – It is non sense finding a comparison with one’s style of work to another’s work or attempting to emulate the works of others.  The composition may be similar.  The people, situation, time scale, date, situation, will never be the same.

I believed the best camera I ever used was a Hasselblad Super Wide – Goodness, the filters for it cost the price of a decent camera.  I carried a SWC,  Weston IV light meter and 2 X 12on backs for two years of my life.  ( I only mention the configuration for those who like camerawork )   When life changed, I destroyed all the negatives and trannies taken with the camera and I once believed I was all the better for it… No I’m not, I would like to have those negative’s and Velvia transparencies.  Hell’s teeth they were part of my photographic archive.  Records of my life.

Lost forever in a municipal tip or even worst incinerator.

Note to mind…Never destroy in a moment anything which has taken years to piece together.

I do have 2 Ge-Pe mounted trannies I took with it.  They are worth more to me than gold.  I will never scan them!  I treasure them because in my empirical knowledge the film was with me when I took the picture.  It is a frozen moment of time.

Think about this.  Its amazing.  The Silver Image burned onto the negative by the reflective light of the sun is material evidence of the recording of a moment in time.  The Velvia ( Fuji Slide Film ) WAS in my hands when I recorded the moments in time.  Its a powerful meditation of recollection of memory.  Where was I?  What happened on the day?  I look through the vivid colours and I am there.

The pictures you see on this blog are a strange kind of evidence of the madness of the acute or dedicated photographer who desires the best recording tools money can buy.

Council House - Press Style

One Pound Fruit stall – Press Style

I have a strange addiction of taking pictures on one roll of film which is exposed through differing cameras and lens’s.  The pictures you see in this blog are recorded on ONE roll of 35mm Ilford HP5s – It was use in two different cameras –  And developed in the old “Press Photographer” way.  Which means, it has been developed to get an image from the negative.  The process is aggressive and takes no account of the instrument which recorded the image.

One picture was taken with a peanut price camera/lens combination.  The other taken with what is accepted as one of the best lens’s ever made.  You will never know which was a K priced image or a long forgotten name.  Because the ‘Press’ film development process needs to ensure an image, the film IS over developed by 35% AND the developer is a ‘stock’ solution (ID11 or D23 were the usual solutions).  This builds grain and increases contrast –  The ‘bastard’ is millions of photographers do not realise it is this process of development which forms the magical style on the negative!  The process disadvantages the high priced lens/camera combination.

It is my desire the pictures are more interesting than the camera and lens.

Thats the way with writing and recording ones thoughts.  5 Cent pencil or $2K   MacBook with Scrivener software.  If the writer is not within his own truths.  Recording his own images.  Following his own madness.  Being within his own lies.  Fulfilling his own imaginations.  Recording his words.  Using his OWN creativity to realise his ambitions.  Nothing else will work.  He will fail He will always be like the amateur photographer needing a Leica or Hasselblad.  Many teachers say its not the tools.  Its the creative mind.  Teacher’s teach what they already know.  It seems to me that the perpetual circle of education only teaches the tools (the photographers camera) of words.  Break the circle and your a renegade, maverick, cowboy on the range. Shoot up the town and marry the emancipated school teacher.  Anything happens when your explore the possibilities.

This is why the ‘Press Photograph’ wins.  It images the story at ALL COSTS. The print room could not take a chance on UNDER-DEVLOPING the film or story.  The darkroom technician HAD to over develop the film to get the image and what he revealed was gritty and rough edged.  The reader did not care she knew the meaning of the image.

Artists take the same charcoal used by cavemen and draw on the walls of a dark cave. They know it may take decades before the light of future see’s their creativity.  Write.  Record ones thoughts.  Expose the images for no other reason than you can.  Write so as no multitude understands and one woman can.  And then she becomes captivated and says ‘Who was this man?’

End.

Break The Pretentious Mould

Searching In A Haze

Searching In A Haze

Break The Pretentious Mould

Prententious = Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance or merit than is actually possessed.

A break from the blog for a week or 2 to reassess its purpose and questioning if I am keeping to the constraints of the title ‘Why Short Stories?’

Its the way for me.  Short dialogue has become the preferred method of communication.  I believe age is the reason.  Less time to live than lived makes each moment more precious.

Life?  Its an series of experiments.  The human experiment.  Theories, outcomes, failures, success’s, happiness, love, lovers, relationships, enemies, poverties, wealths.  Important or not, remembered or forgotten.  In the final sleep no reflection…Silence.

A week ago a friend Gordon spoke with warmth about a book with a cold subject.  ‘Now Let Us Praise Famous Men’ (James Agee ‘writer’ and Walker Evans ‘photographer’).  A long read for my tastes.  The first pages are a series of photographs – wait a second I’ll count them – 58 pictures which depict the poverty of America during the Depression.  The majesty of the pictures goes beyond the subjects.  The warm toned precise images are a testament to the fortitude of the human psyche.

The book was written in the 1930’s.  Its 2015 and we are still progressing. Out of one poverty into another.  Fear of starvation taken over by the fear of death by natural causes.

Sure enough the book twists an imaginary focus ring in my mind. And random people enter in and add to the meditation.

Yesterday I spoke to a woman who reeled off a list of famous artists and photographers.  She was almost overwhelmed by their fame.  It seems to have an exhibition of their work is evidence of their capabilities.  Is she right?  In her mind she is.  This writer does not question her opinion.  Indeed it seems to be the  way of the majority…Adoration.  ‘Now Let Us Praise Famous Men’?

Focus ~ People ~ Nightmares

Focus ~ People ~ Nightmares

And Then…

This morning I’m asked to make a contribution to a charity.  I lie, saying I will have a look at the the nicely printed begging letter.  Its the usual 3 pounds will feed a 100 starving children for 36.7 seconds.  I wonder if the messenger is really attempting to pacify his own conscience.  I want to say  “You look like a rich man sell your possessions.  Sell them to show a commitment.  Set the example commit your whole life to poverty”  Yeh!  That’s going to happen.

When the next person asks me for a donation I’m going to make a contribution to my strength of will by saying  “I’m all out of compassion the kids will still starve in spite of your work”  I’m wondering about charity and its real effect.  Surely a man who gives his ‘last penny’ to a pauper becomes one?

Does your mind shift from one thought to another?  A chain of events.  The thoughts within will not out?  Do you speak them?  Write them?  Exorcise them?  I used to be in fear of my truths and the fear of the madness within them.   Now I write of them wishing the insanity would return.  In the times when I’m crazy there is no care for others.  Theres no malice, for malice need a design, a premeditation which is nurtured with a desire to cause pain within another.   Malice is a prison sentence, a punishment for the victim.  A sign of the dangerous nature of its architect.  When I say to the beggars accomplice “I will not give to your charity” Will I be judged as mean, cruel, without compassion?  Of cause I will, my intentions will be mistaken.

Walker Evans’s photographs are effective.  The subjects in them now in their final sleep.  Their poverties, pains and memories silenced.  Evans was commissioned to take the pictures and Agee wrote of what he saw.  What was the outcome of their collaboration?  Did it contribute to awareness of the plight?  I have no idea.

The farmers and their families who are the subject of the documentary are tenants.  As I read I reflect upon the futility of acquisition.  Many times those who attempt to own property often fail in their quest, and where does the desire to have ‘title’ to land come from?  It can never be theirs, in the final sleep we own nothing.

I research and see many became bankrupt by act of god.  Drought, storm and disease taking the profit from their crop leaving them destitute.  The inevitable follows.  The theft of their land by banks who take everything for a few dollar loan and the use of government authority to enforce the pursuit of the settlement of their debt is a madness I cannot resolve.

This way of material slavery continues.  Nothing has changed, nothing learned.  The poor take a chance to get out of their poverty.  They secure a loan for some equipment to cultivate their domain.  The plan fails or the crop is ruined and they are punished for their attempt.  In truth they should be applauded for their bravery.

Now It Comes Into Focus

Now It Comes Into Focus

Charity awaits like a demon to deepen poverty.  Dependance as addictive as heroin   Poor choice habits become moments of release.  Orgasm breeds the child into poverty.  Drink and drugs cultivate crime.  Certain degradations are the impoverished mans revenge on the rich.  Wrecked housing estates, marital violence, petty inter family hierarchies which become feudal like war.  Does this effect the conscience of the wealthy?  In truth the rich man hides his contempt for the poor.  He throws a penny into the charity pot and claims to give a fortune!  Cynical?  No an exercise in truth.  My Truth.

Is poverty pretentious?  The question sounds nice.  Its an intellectual style question.  Superfluous – nonsense – not worth further thought.

Anyway I’m pleased.  My mind wandered and Gordon introduced me to the book.  Agee’s writing to my liking.  Footnotes, lists, short observations.  Walkers pictures sharp, detailed, effect emotion.

Does generosity or fame reveal a mans character?  Do we give or keep what is ours?  Is charity overrated?  Should we worship the famous?  Is one action of kindness enough to colour a whole life’s achievement?

The answers are of no importance to me.  The randomness or exercising of my mind is.

Thought – Silence – Awaiting Idea

Over The Hurdle

Over The Hurdle

Thought – Silence – Awaiting Idea

The slow process of creation.  The instantaneous process of destruction.

A friendship nurtured over decades destroyed in a moment of anger, weakness or chance.  A city constructed over centuries destroyed in the flash of an atom.

A planet, this planet, your home, your provider, 5.5 billion years old, being destroyed in a whisper of time.  What is 2000 years compared 5.5 billion?  A hairs breath width in a ten thousand mile distance.  The orgy of greed, the insanity of no sense action.  The circle of destruction.  Self destruction without conscience.

In the morning the family is happy.  The accident which kills the father pre-fixes the happiness with two letters – UN.…

Hiroshima moments are seeds of doubts in the creative mind.

Why.  Should.  Could. The questioning words.  Reality or fiction.  Thats the way life is.  How did the crisis occur?  What made the character become frightened?  Thats it isn’t it?  The characters fear.  Give him happiness and hold the happiness through the story and its tiresome.  Give him happiness then take it away.  Now this makes the story.

Some writers like to dictate. This is the way it is.  Do not eat meat, the vegetarian is stronger than the carnivore.  No one made better rice pudding than my crazy grand-mother.  My father was the best any one could ever have.  These jibber jabber stories bore the reader.  Like squares in circles.

The best writers nurture.  Nurturing fear within.  I prefer the fear to enter into the experience. The cutting of the blade, no pain at first, soon a stinging sensation, warm blood around the wound, the fear of death.  Adulterous lovemaking, no pain at first, soon a stinging sensation of guilt, warm tears around the aftermath, the fear of divorce, the living death. How does it feel to enter a valley of decay?  Does little hope of survival means chances can be taken?

The walker in the woods doesn’t discover a body, she finds the thief’s hoard.  After deciding to keep it, it takes two journeys to get the treasure to her car.  On the way home she realises her phone is missing.  Her partners tells her he’s received a strange call from a man who wants his money returned.  “He told me if he doesn’t get his money back, he’ll make our children live’s short and unsweet”  How do you feel now?

Evolve the story, look around the mindscape.  The stories of actual life are often amazing.  The stories of fiction can be like a maze where the reader is lost.  The reader must feel comfortable in the story, he should feel as if there will be a conclusion.  Evoke human emotion and the emotion will work for the writer or artist if there is a possibility that the situations could occur.

Observation and Questioning

Observation and Questioning

I know nothing.  My mind changes from day to day.  Nothing is certain.  I am in the maze.  Am I lost?  Am I at the centre of the maze attempting to find freedom?  Am I waiting at the entrance in fear of entering?  How can I rise above the problem, so as I can look down and see the whole picture?  I do not know, at this moment I do not know.  I’m jotting words in free flow.  This blog, this assembly of thoughts is my note book today.  I am not writing words to a stranger.  I am writing to myself.

There is a certainty in my mind.  Even though the creative process is nearing a ‘full stop’, it is really at a ‘comma’.  My note books prove the presence of an imperceptible movement.  Liken the black books to the immense effort needed to get the 10 tonne boulder to start to roll at the top of the mountain.  My note books are the leverage needed to find another story, another way out, the reason why I did something, experiences I enjoyed and ones I did not.  Once the heavy stone begins to roll, there will be no stopping it.  I care not for the destruction my words will cause.  If my words evoke an emotion in another then I have succeeded in influencing the reader.  I write for my pleasure and as a writer I need someone to read my words, if no one reads my words I am a journal keeper not a writer.  These 2 clauses are a personal contract within my writing which must be fulfilled for the emotion of happiness to arise within my being.  A writer needs a reader.

In my mind the successful artist is a manipulator of realities.  Tubes of oil or acrylic paint, the key board, pencil and paper or camera, are a few of the tools.    The artist take these tools and manipulates her observations into her creation.  Creator = Manipulator.

Which Keys To Tap?

Which Keys To Tap?

Whilst I’m able to think I’m able to accept the world exists.  When my thoughts enter the final sleep all which will remain will be the pictures I have taken and the few short books I have written.  If another human reads my work when I think no more, then within the time they read those words I exist again.

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