Friday, 30 May 2008

The Wanderer

Yesterday was a bit of a strange day. For me. Though it took a while for me to notice.

You see for the afternoon I was truly playing the role of 'The Artist'. Now you might argue it's a role I play regularly. But what made yesterday different was that I spent a few hours wandering our hill working.

Actually looking for specific images. Not just snapshooting. Which is my usual Wellington mode. In fact it's my usual anywhere mode.

It felt strange to me. Though I'm not sure why. Maybe it's cos I haven't been shooting much lately. Maybe it's cos I was with Hasselblad not Horseman. Maybe it's cos I'm capricious. Maybe.

The new work is provisionally titled one day, in a town on the edge of the world, the tide went out and never returned. Though I may use that title for a different but related series, so this one might be called you shouldn't have to say goodbye and wonder if this way is how it's gonna be.

Or it may not.

Anyway, after twenty eight shots I'm not convinced I got anything of value. And in fact I'm only speculating that the idea and work is of any value.

That shot up there is an image that probably won't make either series, but it has some potential for something. Somewhere. At least according to Jodi.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

The Book

A couple of weeks ago I got a phone call.

It happens every now and then.

This one was from John Martin, the Parliamentary Historian.

He is working on a book about the Parliamentary Library, this year celebrating its 150th anniversary.

A few years ago I took some photos there, over the period of a couple of days.

John wants to use a crop of this one for the back cover. Cool.

These others will probably be in there somewhere. I think there may be a colour section in the middle.

The book is due for release in September, and there'll also be a reunion of current and ex-library staff.

Exciting. For some.

Maybe even for me seeing as I have spent about 8 years of my life working there off and on - usually off mind you.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The Horizon

Way back in um ... hold on, checking now ... opening catalogue ... um .... 2002 I had an idea.

The idea was called *scapes, though I noted at the time that I "could also call it fake horizons or imitation horizons or manufacturing horizons or something".

I'm not sure if something was actually a suggested title or just a concluding statement. Anyway, you kinda get the idea.

It was about making landscapes from non-landscapes - such as polling station signs.

And windowsills.

And um ... other things (again with the McCahon).

I was hoping to do something with these. In fact I was hoping to collaborate with another artist (a non-photographic artist!!) to realise this series. But our talks fizzled to nothing. I think we both needed the other to do something so we could respond, rather than trying to build up an idea from, well, an idea.

Also, it appears I only took two films for this. I think I got to the point where I realised it was very easy to get shots, but much less easy to get worthwhile shots. These five, I guess, are the best from the 70 odd shot.

Part of the problem relates to this comment I posted recently specifically about digital abstraction but :
it seems to me that there are inherent issues with the digital playground. i remember a show patrick reynolds had at tinakori gallery a few year back where he heavily pixelated his images, and blew them up big. they were nicely abstracted. but after seeing two of them i didn’t need to see any more. i felt the same with brian’s work.

i am yet to see a show where the use of photoshop to abstract images has resulted in a decent show; where the original idea, however good or bad, has been successfully transferred across a number of images required to make a show, while retaining the necessary individual vitality of each image.
I don't know if it's just me, but I strongly feel that it is much harder to do decent abstraction in photography, or at least to create a decent body of work from abstraction. Generally I find the idea, the conceit, wears thin very quickly.

There are photographers who do it very well - this one being my main point of reference.

I still like these horizon pics. But I got bored. As I tend to do. Too often.

But not before I got one of the transparencies printed on backlit film - using a positive as a negative to create a positive.

Kinda cool, but I think I prefer the positive positive positive over this positive negative positive.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

The Early

As my first year of studying photography was winding up I decided to make the leap into the digital world.

These are amongst the first digital images I made.

At my flat at 38 Rolleston Street.

That's me nonchalantly playing guitar.

That's me nonchalantly playing guitar.

That's me nonchalantly holding guitar.

Interestingly, a couple of years back there was this thing on TV3, Campbell Live from memory, and these guys were standing in a room, and I went 'hey, that room looks kinda familiar.'

It was kinda familiar. It was my old bedroom.

Bret had turned it into a music room. At least that's what it looked like.

Gosh New Zealand is such a small country. Double gosh, Wellington is such a small part of that gosh small country.

Friday, 23 May 2008

The Graduation

Last week there were a few strangely dressed folk wandering around town, mainly in the vicinity of the Michael Fowler Centre.

My guess is it was graduation week.

I took these images in 2000, as part of an "Editorial" assignment, specifically 'The Decisive Moment'.

This young man was poking his tongue out prior to the parade from the Law School to Civic Square.

This young lady was amongst the parade walking into Civic Square. I don't know her. My guess is she saw my long lens and thought I was from the press, and seeing I was focussed in her direction, decided to respond to me. I bet she was disappointed the picture wasn't in the paper the next day.

I wasn't disappointed however, cos we were required to get 3 'direct gaze' images. This was a winner.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

The Food

I was recently looking through my disk drives and found a folder called, interestingly enough, 'scans'.

In it were lots of images, mainly taken around the time of my studies. At the beginning of the century.

These two were taken midway through the year one for the 'Studio' paper.

I really like this one. It's M&Ms and coffee beans (I think) in little sake bowls/glasses with a sake bottle in the background.

As we were taught by a commercial photographer he was keen on getting us to write a brief prior to shooting. For this assignment he decided that we weren't allowed to change our idea once we'd submitted our brief.

My brief idea was 'gourmet baked beans', which basically meant served in a soup bowl with parsley garnish and paprika artistically sprinkled around the plate. Baked beans cos it meant not needing to shoot freshly cooked food - thinking see.

Consequently I couldn't use the M&Ms image, even though it was better than the baked beans idea - better technically and as an idea. Still, that didn't stop me shooting it. Obviously.

I took this one early in the day. The wine, rose, and glass were all props from home. Still got much of the wine cos I don't drink enough - not by myself at home anyway.

In the early days of my studio photography I was very keen on low light, enough to record detail, while adding a certain mood. Now I don't do studio work at all.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

The Newfangled

After Sunday's debacle, I just had to do something.

I did this. I'm now the proud owner of a brand new Mazon Pro Force 1000.

How exciting.

Interestingly that hunk of wood and stuff cost the same as this hunk of plastic and stuff. Which I bought last Wednesday. They could almost be a matching set seeing as they share similar colour palate.

I just have to remember which one stops hockey balls the best.

And which one I can more easily load film into.

As many of you will know, last year I spent far too much money on this thing, only to shoot one roll of film on her, then putting her to the top of my camera cabinet. Diana + Edelweiss is my everyday Meg - not that I'll be play with her everyday.

I shot a roll on her last Friday, but what with the lack of decent labs in town, I'm having real trouble finding somewhere that processes film which doesn't need three days of flattening before I scan it. Post to come.

Oh, and someone finally gets me. Maybe. "Prolific, humorous, self deprecating and with pictures beyond the ordinary." I've always wanted to be prolific.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

The Zenith

When I posted this, one of my regular readers commented "good luck with the hockey, look forward to seeing the "damage photos" ".

Well I'm kinda over photographing my injuries. For one thing it's actually quite difficult to get good photos of your own leg and associated scrapes/bruises/swellings etc. Also it's quite egotistical, and frankly writing a blog is egotistical enough. Lastly, and possibly most importantly, my earlier injury posts didn't solicit any way near enough sympathy from you guys.

It's not as if I haven't had the injuries already this year. A few weeks ago I counted no less than 12 individual bruises on my person, about 4 of which covered a large portion of my left thigh. And I've had a nicely swollen ankle for two weeks now.

Today however I feel justified with posting the following images.

They document some very serious damage. Very serious indeed. I would suggest fatal were it not for the fact that I'm writing this.

Here is a nice demonstration of how photography can be used to deceive; to obscure the truth; to tell the story the photographer wants to tell.

Turn the stick 90 degrees and you see the head is only hanging on thanks to the fibreglass shell.

Mmmmmmm broken wood. Naturally this happened prior to the game, when I made a miracle save by sticking my stick out hoping it'd connect with the fast moving ball. Ummm ... I think it did connect somewhat.

Guess what I'm doing this week?

Oh, and some other rubbish which may be of interest.

Firstly a couple more reviews - The National Grid (by me) and Rita Angus (by a regular).

And, it's quite surprising what you discover about yourself when you do a Google search trying to find online comments about your latest project.

Somehow this came up. What was surprising was this comment on page 32.

           Religious Studies
           1–20 September 2007
           Thermostat Gallery, Palmerston North
           Three Christian photographers explored biblical
           themes through nature and a critique of consumerism
           in Hong Kong. Andy Palmer: Some of the silences in
           my life, David Boyce: Elective affinities, Jodi Ruth
           Keet: When the thousand years are over.

I'm not sure how long I've been a Christian photographer. It's not a label I would ever have given myself, and I feel it'd be safe to say David and Jodi wouldn't chose that particular epithet either. For myself it's largely cos I'm not a Christian, but why split hairs.

The Chrysalis Seed Trust "aims to help resource artists from a Christian perspective" so it's no surprise they chose to see certain things in a show called "Religious Studies". Our own fault I guess.

Interestingly, a few days after the opening when I was taking David up north, we stopped in on Jodi at Raglan and the CST guys were there holding a meeting. David and Jodi went, I stayed home. The next day David and I bumped into them at the Waikato Museum. It was obvious to me that 1) my work didn't leave much of an impression on them, 2) they really had no idea what each of us were/are about.

That's what happens when you put things into the public sphere. People attach their own meaning regardless of what meaning the artist hopes it may have for others.

That's one of the reasons why I do this dumb thing.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

The Candlelight

Well a call to my ISP sorted out that little problem, so now we're up and running again, close to full speed. Yay.

Tomorrow is the 25th Anniversary Candlelight Memorial.

Here are some shots I took during the Candlelight Memorial Parade in 2001.

It was the first proper shots I took for this project. Because what I wanted to do was rather sensitive, at the time of the parade I was still uncertain as to whether I'd get the go ahead for the project or not. It seemed silly to let this opportunity pass by, regardless of what happened with my project.

I've previously blogged this last year on World AIDS Day, but it's worth a revisit.

I may be there tomorrow night, depending on how I feel after hockey - sore, drunk, pathetic, etc. I feel kinda conflicted these days because my project didn't end in the best of circumstances, and while I'm still interested in the cause, and every now and then I bump into and chat to people I photographed, I didn't feel terribly welcome when I last went to an event. Admittedly that was some years back. So you never know, I may just pop along.

Friday, 16 May 2008

The Issue

On Monday my computer died - much like this bird.

On Tuesday night we managed to revive it.

Yesterday I finally managed to go online again. But only via dial-up. I can feel my life slipping by as a wait for emails to arrive and web pages to load.

So I probably won't be here again until that's sorted out.

In the meantime here's another post about my latest project, and one in which I diss a book bigtime (ooh I'm such a bitchy critic).

By the way, I came across that bird sometime in the summer on one of those rear occasions when I was wandering around town with my digi, though I can no longer remember why I was doing so, but I'm sure it had some real purpose to it.

Friday, 9 May 2008

The Random

Just some random stuff about me and my life cos I know you're all so interested.

A few months ago, at the National Library, there was an exhibition about Manapouri and the protest movement that is synonymous with the name. It was an interesting show to see if for no other reason than for it's mix of art and history.

As part of the show I saw a book which I never knew existed. I thought it looked interesting. An early (1960) New Zealand conservation treatise by J. T. Salmon. I tracked down a copy at Wellington Public Library, and then a purchasable copy at Bibliomania - fine books, fair prices indeed. It arrived the other day - five days after ordering it. This internet thing is great.

And the cover is so cool. Both of its time and timeless. A bit like the contents (if you ignore all the legislation and Government Department stuff).

And my latest project is getting some coverage. Not as much as we'd like of course. But at least some people are paying attention.

And, just cos I know you're all so very very interested, hockey is starting in earnest this weekend, i.e. the result actually means something. And Wellington Hockey has been kind enough to post the schedule for Round One. So here's my next few Sundays sorted for me.

Sun 11th May 2008 5:15 p.m. NHS1 Naenae 1 Petone 1
Sun 18th May 2008 1:00 p.m. NHS2 Naenae 1 Karori 1
Sun 25th May 2008 3:45 p.m. NHS1 Naenae 1 Victoria 2
Sun 8th Jun 2008 11:30 a.m. NHS2 Northern United 2 Naenae 1
Sun 15th Jun 2008 11:15 a.m. NHS1 Indians 2 Naenae 1
Sun 22nd Jun 2008 4:00 p.m. NHS2 Naenae 1 Harbour City/Tawa 2
Sun 29th Jun 2008 12:45 p.m. NHS1 Hutt 2 Naenae 1

Come along, join in the fun. It's a much more exciting and skillful game than rubgy. And you get the added bonus of (probably) seeing me get hurt. What more can you possibly want in a sports game?!

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

The Blogger

I believe I've said this before, but this internet thing is kinda cool. Sometimes you're wandering around, avoiding what you should be doing, claiming a lack of inspiration when it’s actually a lack of pathy, and you come across something cool, without actually remembering how you got there.

This is one of those things. It’s not the easiest site to navigate around, but the idea is lovely, and some of the images are phantastisch. And this isn't one of them.

What I should have been doing was busy intellectualising my work, and writing another application/proposal. I don't know how other people find the time for writing, let alone shooting - especially those working fulltime (like Gavin and Wayne and Anne and Ann and others).

This application/proposal writing thing is a strange beast. I spend hours in front of the computer, at cafes, wandering the streets thinking about myself. Then I try to put it in words which hopefully suit the language requirements of those making the selection – high brow or lower brow as the case may be – while pretending I know what the hell I’m on about.

And then I'm left wondering whether its actually worth the time and effort and bother cos I never get them anyway. But I want to be in this for the longhaul. I want to make my living as a fulltime artist. So I need to put myself forward for Residencies and Prizes. Hopefully one day, I'll start winning some, getting my name out there a bit more, and getting my fame, fortune and harems.

Over the weekend I was thinking about chucking in finishing this one off. Even after having spent getting on for $100 getting prints made, buying presentation folders etc., drinking coffee in cafes while reading through draft after draft.

But fortunately for this one, I needed letters of recommendations to go with my proposal. Usually it's names of referees they want with the application, not actual letters. So having convinced three people to write wonderful things about me and my practice I felt I would be abusing that friendship and trust if I didn't finish it and get it in the post (which I did yesterday).

So thanks guys. Now it's in the hands of God - or CNZ.

Oh. In case you're wondering the photos posted have nothing to do with the posting. I just thought I should post photos seeing as I pretend I'm a photographer and this is a photoblog. They were taken last year with a special camera which has not been used since. Not that I'm a sad bugger or anything.

Miserable maybe. But not sad.

Monday, 5 May 2008

The Figment

The opening on Friday was wet and cold. It didn't stop the work looking fantastic though. But it did stop those gathered from seeing those works not facing the St James side of Courtenay Place.

The next morning it still looked glorious. Not as stunning as at night, but still fabulous. Even if I do say so myself.

Looking east.

Looking west.

And one of the stars of one of the images looking at one of the other images. Talking to her she's torn between pride and embarrassment. Understandably enough. But the image is superb and, frankly, she's got nothing to be embarrassed about.

And a bit of the detailing.

Yesterday I got an email from Eric describing Simon as a genius. I'm not one for blindly chucking around epithets, but I think Simon deserves the title 'genius' more then many people on whom it is hung - just check out those cantilevered seats and the bike stands (you'll actually need to go to the park to see these cos I haven't photographed them ... yet).

Regardless of anything else that may come from this project - fame, fortune, harems - its been a pleasure to be involved in it.

And now we all have six months to get completely tired of the whole thing. Awesome.

Still we’re expecting (wanting!!) some controversy, so once you’ve seen it I implore you to ring council (04 499 4444) and tell them how much you loved (or hated) it, just to add some balance to the boring anti-everything brigade.

As we were leaving the opening (i.e. being kicked out) I braved the weather and had a look down the street side of the works. I almost cried. I was completely blown away. Maybe it was the wine, who knows. But having spent 18 months working on a project, where much of the finish was out of my hands, and only having 10cm models to play with, blindly hoping that things would sit and read as we wanted them too, it was amazing to see the results. It was far better than I could have imagined.

In case you can't tell, I'm kinda excited about it. Go see it.

Friday, 2 May 2008

The Flaneur

As I've stated before I can be pretty secretive guy when it comes to what I'm working on.

One of those secret projects (previously mentioned here) opens tonight. So if you're in the vicinity of the St James between 6-8pm tonight come pop along, tell them I sent you.

Recently a council bylaw was passed stating that all Wellington residents and visitors have to visit the site on at least two occasions - once during daylight, once at night. You are also required to stand around, look intently (and intelligently), murmur occasionally, and make pretentious statements about NZ identity, the nature of photography, and the role of Art in public spaces.

It's been a really exciting project to be involved with, and I'll almost certainly be blogging about it more over the next few days/weeks.

I have co-curated the work alongside my previously mentioned council advocate. Again it was largely an organisational role, though Simon effectively lead that. My main role was to find talented individuals whose work could be included in the show.

I think I did a marvellous job there.

The idea was that the entire show was collectively curated by all the participants rather than having one or two people making dictatorial pronouncements about what was and was not suitable work. There were moments of intense debate, especially early on, as people were presenting work, and having it shot down, or exalted. Almost surprisingly some work was instantly accepted by everyone. But then I did ask that person because I thought those images were perfect for the project.

We've been at it for eighteen months, and it's wonderful to see it finally come to fruition.

You have to get along sometime. Soon!!

You may have noticed that I've told you next to nothing about the what the project is. This will give you little help.

Above are my images in the show. Out of context they'll make no sense. In context they may make no sense. But, not to give anything away, that might just be their purpose. Maybe.

The works are titled "where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? #1" and "where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? #2".

I really have to give a huge and public thanks to Simon Bush-King, departing WCC Urban Designer, whose idea the project was. As well as designing a lovely inner city space, he has been a huge advocate for public art, and public interaction with and interrogation of the urban environment. He was also the driving force behind IntensCITY 2007. Sadly for us, and Wellington urban design, Simon is heading overseas shortly to spread his vision around the globe. Thanks mate, awesome job.

Also I need to give an honourable mention to Eric Holowacz, ex-WCC Arts Programmes and Services Manager, now doing a similar role in Key West, who introduced Simon and I after hearing very nice things from lots of people about this. Thanks mate, you started a fruitful partnership.

Oh, and I suppose I should thank everyone else involved who were so willing to be involved and give their time and energy over the last few months. Thanks guys, great job. Let's get pissed.