Sunday, 30 March 2008

The Lackadaisical

For some reason I haven't felt particularly inspired lately - either in photography or with this blog. So with that in mind here's some more shots from "A Poorly Focussed Life".

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

The Chair

Sharyn recently posted this.

My comment was "hey, that chair looks vaguely familiar ...". It's true.

Not just because I was there when she bought it, but because it reminded me of this - taken January 2 this year.

It's quite obvious to me that what we have here is an open and shut case of plagarism.

Even though this is the first time Sharyn has seen my image.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

The Photographer

It occurs to me that of late this here blog has become more about me and less about my photography. So with that in mind I'm not even going to bother trying to find a photo to post today.

Last night I went to Wilco. It was f*@kin awesome. Quite possibly the best show in a f*@kin awesome year. The guys are such pros - fantastic musicianship (especially Glenn Kotche and Nels Cline), Tweedy is such a showman. Their first song was 'Sunken Treasure', and about sixty seconds in I had a revelatory moment. The song was unmistakably familiar, as was the voice, and IT WAS COMING FROM THE GUY A FEW METRES IN FRONT OF ME!!

It was a slow start, a rockin' start, but Jeff let half a dozen songs go by before talking to us - "so is it tradition round here for everyone to wear heavy metal t-shirts the day after easter?" - and from there things picked up. Both the band and audience seemed to relax and really start enjoying themselves. I have to say seating is the worst possible thing at a gig like this. You wanna dance. And even when you stand up you're still trapped by the seats.

Such an awesome show. They played bits from most of their catalogue - no A.M. or Mermaid Ave 2 - to make up for never having been here before. Part way through 'Spiders (Kidsmoke)', which turned out to be the last song of the evening, I said to myself "I wish I had gone to Whitianga ... and then to Auckland ... and then here." They were that good. (Or I'm that sad.)

They played my request, "How to Fight Loneliness" (not that they mentioned it being my request), and my second request, "Reservations" (not that I requested it), and pretty much most of my favourites, and a few unfavourites too, all of which were fantastic. The whole thing was. The two hour set was way too short. I could 've gone another two hours. Whether Wilco could have is another thing. Next time they come, you should go, they're good.

This year started with Low at the Kings Arms. And it was wicked. They're not a band whose records will appeal to everyone, but I would think that anyone who sees them live will be instantly converted. Like Jeff Tweedy, Alan Sparhawk is a showman - and a guitar hero. For two guys and one girl to hold a few hundred people in silent rapture for an hour is amazing. Like last night, I was smiling like a nutter throughout. Save for maybe a Dimmer gig a couple of years back, Easter 2005 maybe, it was probably the best gig I'd seen and I left wondering if it could be topped.

Then two weeks later was Big Day Out, as previously reported. It was a great day. The revelations for me were LCD Soundsystem and Dizzee Rascal, but their recordings don't live up to their live act. And of course we can't forget Arcade Fire. Another awesome show, and a band I really want to see do a full set in, say, the Opera House, sans seating.

And then on February 12 we had Explosions In The Sky at SanFran. I knew they'd either be fantastic or dire. I didn't dream they'd be this good. The friend I went with named it her best gig ever (from memory), and she's been to quite a few. Definitely top five for me. Such energy, such volume, kinda primal, kinda spiritual. Freaking awesome.

And last night. Where can I go from here? It can't get any better. I noticed The Bats are playing on April 5 so that'd be a quick trip back to reality - not that they're bad, they're just not Wilco or EitS etc. Dudley Benson is playing April 4 which will definitely be an experience and a fairly unique gig. So maybe ...

This internet thing is kinda cool. I've been downloading too much music of late. But some of it's really cool. I found this guy via google, and have since downloaded a lot of his stuff - note that a lot of the older links don't work. KiwiTapes put me on to this which is a really cool way to eat up the gigabytes. I have found some crazy stuff here though - like Chris Knox's very rare first solo album.

Some of these are kinda entertaining, not astounding, but worth a listen. And this fella isn't shy about writing about NZ music which is cool. And I just discovered that Simon Sweetman has a blog about music and stuff.

And for something a bit more intellectual, Charles Darwin anyone?

Monday, 24 March 2008

The Shopper

Sometimes friends are nasty. You do something as innocuous as showing them around the Newtown secondhand shops and what happens?

You end up buying the very thing your friend was looking for, only you end up buying a more expensive one. Nice. Thanks Shazza.

Mind you, I have been looking for a reading chair for quite some time. So yay. Oh, and what an awesome lamp.

It's happened quite a few times over the years where I've accompanied someone on a shopping mission, with no intention of buying myself, and end up spending more money than they do. Life's just not fair somedays.

And here's another shot with that awesome lamp (authentic Moroccan, camel skin and henna, bought by me in Marrakesh and brought back to NZ seated next to my folks on the plane) and an awesome photo.

And as an added bonus, my new chair came with a $2 coin between the arm and seat. Awesome.

Friday, 21 March 2008

The Easter

It's Easter. So you know what that means. It's time again for a few months of random, sometimes impressive, bruises, nasty sand abrasions (generally on the lower arm and elbow), and twice weekly adventures swimming in more sweat than is normal or socially acceptable.

Yes it's hockey season again. Yay. First training last night. I'm unfit. And I have a new elbow sand abrasion. Yay.

Cos this post, hell, this blog, is all about me, and I couldn't find a more suitable image, here's a shot Sharyn took of me about a year ago. In a kitchen/auditorium on a cruise ship. Nice. She'll soon be doing some more work for these guys, this time without me, cos they're cheap (or maybe it's me, useless, unhelpful, demanding, egotistical).

And to finish, a little weekend reading for you. Here's a new blog with an aim to critique photography - it's permalinked on the left there. Already I'm not in entire agreement, but then that's the point. Looking forward to further opinionated opinions.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

The Loser

Just so you're not all left wondering ...

Over The Net have reported nicely on the selection process.

This result was absolutely no surprise. Even before I wrote the proposal I knew it was an unlikely proposition. Still I got a phone call and this nice letter telling me what a loser I am so it's not all bad.

Monday, 17 March 2008

The Awakening

Last Friday I bought myself a new compact disc. Just cos it's what I do somedays - too many days some may suggest.

This whole music buying thing is quite interesting. Once upon a time I was building up to being a nice anal retentive trainspotter record collector type - as you'd probably guess by looking here. For a while I was buying nearly everything Flying Nun released - sometimes on both CD and vinyl. Then I went overseas.

While overseas I really didn't have money to buy music - though over those 3 years I did end up buying a couple of dozen albums (including a couple of anal retentive foreign releases by NZ bands). During that time I discovered that my view of NZ music had been obscured by the rose-tinted glasses I was wearing. In reality some of the stuff I had been buying was pretty crap, I just refused to acknowledge it at the time. And being forced to lessen my purchases meant largely giving up my anal retentive ways. Thank Christ for that.

Since arriving back in this country getting on for ten years ago, I've noticed some changes in my music buying habits. For one I tend to find a lot of music on the internet and make choices based on what I read and hear there, rather than relying on local radio and print media. I tend to buy quite a lot of secondhand/cheap music these days - something I almost never did back in the day. Interestingly, over the last few years I've noticed my NZ music purchases as a percentage of overall music purchases are increasing - though now I would argue I'm generally buying it because I like it, not out of some parochial misguidance.

I've also noticed I haven't fully lost my anal retentive trainspotter record collector tendencies. I still feel I need to own (or at least have a copy) of every release by an artist I like. With most bands this needn't be the case. I believe that bands should grow with time, mature and develop, evolve and change. Some do. Some don't. This is how I justify buying everything by say Sigur Ros or Guided By Voices or David Kilgour, when to all intents and purposes one or two albums by each would be suffice. You just need to do your research to find out which one or two albums that should be.

Still I'm trying to escape these trainspotter tendancies. However, that didn't stop me buying the debut album by Dudley Benson. Dudley has been releasing EPs for a few years now. I kept coming across one at the local record store. I liked the design but didn't know anything about the guy/band. Then he got reviewed on The Sampler. Two days later the local record store had no copies of the reviewed EP, but still had copies of the earlier one with the artwork which intrigued me so. So I bought it.

First up, Dudley is a total not rock'n'roll name. Oddly enough the music is total not rock'n'roll. I hesitate to label it, but if you took the highly orchestrated works of , say, Sufjan Stevens (two albums necessary, tops) and stripped them back to minimal bits of the heavy orchestration you might be able to imagine Dudley's sound.

It's not something I'll listen to lots, but I will revisit it occasionally and be wowwed by it's beauty.

Here's the cover.

As I said, the artwork was what first intrigued me about this guy. I am a believer in judging a book by it's cover - and I like this cover (it certainly would have tempted me to buy it even without knowing the artist). When I bought The Awakening I noticed there were two versions - one in standard jewel case, and one in a cardboard sleeve (for $5 more). Naturally I bought the more expensive version.

Inside was an envelope.

And in the envelope was a library card.

Is it sad to like library cards? Especially ones for such potentially exciting books as this.

Here's the first Dudley Benson EP I bought - Steam Railways Of Britain. Love that dog. Love the train picture - unique to my copy. Oh yeah, the music's pretty cool too.

And the second EP - The Orders, Medals & Decorations EP. Again with unique cutout - this time a medal. And pretty cool music - including different mixes of songs from the first.

The cover of The Awakening reminds me of Andrew Ross's work. It's not an Andrew Ross, nor is it a copy, but it reminds me of his work (sorry private in-joke of sorts for one reader out there in the blogosphere).

And by nice coincidence in timing my review of Andrew's book is online now (and I deny any pre-planning or pre-emptive decision making involving the timing of this post and the availability of said review). If you're lucky you can win a copy of the book by answering a simple question. But you have to read the review first.

Friday, 14 March 2008

The Hospital

It's been an exciting week in microphenland. Not only have I had some work - awesome - it's been Writers and Readers Week, and wearing the hat of a Lumiere luminary I scored tickets to a number of events (one of which meant turning down work - awesome). Alongside that a friend had his book launch last night (not that I could get to it) and another friend had an exhibition opening.

On top of all that, last Saturday my mum went into hospital for a little operation - all good - and then on Wednesday my brother was admitted and had his operation yesterday - probably all good.

So, thanks to my mild family dramas, today you get a shot of a hospital room. Well actually it's a hospice room. I took it for this series. Nice.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

The Fourhundredth

Welcome to Episode 400 of Nothing Better To Do.

For two years running I've missed the major anniversaries of this blog which started so long ago and so uneventfully - one year, two years, one hundred posts etc.

As I really have nothing better to do, and if you're reading this then, clearly, you have nothing better to do either, I decided to bring back old cast members for a one off reunion - all 1069 of them.

Randomly ordered they'll appear before you in ways unimaginable. And, probably, unwanted.

And because Picasa has such cool way's to waste time ... I mean present your photos, here's some more rubbish.

A picture pile anyone?

How about a picture grid?

Or a multi-exposure (mess).

Isn't that a particularly lovely muddy warm mid-gray. With gradations like that it could almost pass for abstract painting. Were it actually a painting.

I was going to post another video - a longer one, with music. Made using Windows Movie Maker. Cos it has cool video transition effects. Naturally being a Microsoft product it's incredibly memory hungry, very slow to do even the simplest task, and is prone to crashing. And it refused to completely render every movie I asked it to. So ... I'm really sold on it. It's a great program to use. And not at all frustrating. And not here for you to view. Thanks Microsoft.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

The Fruit

A while ago I posted some photos of "yet another bloody body of work humorously titled "The Birds And The Trees". (Get it?!)".

Since then this series has come up in conversation a number of times with different people.

A year ago I shot some more for this project. And for some reason didn't post it back then.

Ironically though, there are no birds in these photos.

Plenty of tree.

And bits of fruit.

Here's the roughly edited highlights.

Friday, 7 March 2008

The Music

Being organised isn't always the best thing to be. Today, for example, I spent quite some time trying to track down a film so I could scan some images to act as a connector between the various elements of today's posting. The film was exactly where is should have been. The problem was that, being so organised, it wasn't where I expected it to be, and it took me some while to work this out.

Photos soon, but for those of you interested, I've been sad enough to upload a catalogue of my awesome (sad/boring/obvious/rubbish) music collection. It's not complete - no tapes or foreign vinyl, and some of the release info is missing too - but I'll get around to tidying it up one day. I've only done it cos I can cos I've got heaps of webspace I might as well fill up with rubbish cos there ain't anyway near enough of that on the web.

This shot was taken on the way back from Auckland after seeing Sonic Youth play at the St James in 2004.

I went up with my mate and we stayed with his brother and sister-in-law, who were then living in Kelston.

I was reminded of this trip yesterday afternoon, in less than happy circumstances. It's not something I really want to dwell on here, suffice to say it was a lovely and sad occasion. It made me not just note my own mortality, but also made me wonder if I have really been all I can be and will be remembered so lovingly. It was also a very good advertisement for having spiritual belief - not that I'm quite ready to renounce my agnosticism just yet. My thoughts go out to the families and friends.

And this shot too was taken on the way back from Auckland after seeing Sonic Youth play in 2004.

Did you like how I connected music and photos and friends like that, while all the time never losing sight of the fact that it's all about me? Pretty clever eh?

Thursday, 6 March 2008

The Geek

The other day, thanks to my mate Matt, I got to hang out with Flight Of The Conchords for a day. Awesome.

Matt took lots of photos. You may see some around and about in the near future.

I took some photos too - maybe as many as three. Useless photos which have, no doubt, already been trashed by Matt.

As luck would have it I was Bret's stand-in for a couple of shots. Oh the pressure.

This was Matt's comment when he sent this image through, so please bare this in mind when viewing - "Not a great test shot by any means, but here ya go!"

Naturally the finished result will look much better. Not least because it'll have Bret in there instead of me.

Now, of course, Jemaine and I have known each other for ages. All the way back to when my mate Matt started organising weekend basketball. Around Christmas time last year.

Being the geek I am, and taking full advantage of the situation I found myself in, I asked the boys to write my name for me.

And they gratefully obliged. Nice young men they are.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

The Waterworks

I've just added a new page to my website - awesome way to waste a few hours on an afternoon.

You can currently only get to it if you know the address i.e. there is no link from anywhere on my website. That means you have to use this link here.

It's a body of work I started on last year. It is incomplete. One day I hope to get around to finishing it off.

At the time it was really exciting to shoot. I had, I believe, a good idea. It meant I spent a few days during a hot McKenzie Country summer cruising around unfamiliar territory looking for exciting things to shoot.

I ended up with about 77 negatives. When I got back to Wellington and processed the film I was rather disappointed. There were technical issues with my development, and with the camera/filmbacks at times, which kinda threw me and tainted my thinking about the work.

After having big plans for it I ignored it for a few months. About mid-year I resdiscovered it, threw a book together (which is the basis for the website) and am no longer so disappointed with it.

I do know it's not finished. There are shots I need to reshoot for technical or aesthetic reasons. Some further exploration wouldn't hurt. And I reckon some more snow would be awesome too.

So if anyone's got a spare $10,000 I'd love to take it off your hands and spend a month or so shooting a bunch more shots, eating bad takeaways, narrowly avoiding crashes with SUVs, and generally looking like a crazy person.

There's no explanatory text on the website and there's none here either - though that picture at the top should give you a good clue, as should the title. If you still can't work out what it's all about, maybe I'll explain it sometime later.

PS - I have posted one of the shots on the website previously, and some of you may well note a number of sites previously shot by one Wayne Barrar, though aside from the previously posted shot, I didn't recall his images (which really isn't a good enough excuse).

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

The Famous

Finally I'm being associated with famous artists - well world famous in New Zealand artists (to coin a phrase).

My money is on Fiona or Ronnie, with Julian and Francis as long shots - though of course we don't know the other six contenders yet.

To be fair, while I am artist/curator, my proposal is for a specifically themed group show of New Zealand photography involving an unspecified number of photographers. If anyone's got a spare $450,000 or so lying around I'd love to do the show somewhere, sometime.

It was kind of a fun process to go through, even knowing that our chances of winning "Artsing With The Stars" were next to zero. I was making a statement about the process, the Biennale, and stuff (apologies for the curatorspeak nonsensical nomenclature).

I'm still waiting for my rejection letter.

Hurry up CNZ, don't leave me hanging like this!!

It's nice of Jim Barr and Mary Barr to be doing a bit of Art agitation for us too via their regular blog.

The above image has no real relation to any of this, nor is it indicative of the work likely to be in my show, though it isn't non-indicative either. It is however strongly related to this and this.