Posts Tagged ‘photography’
Colin O’Brien grew up Colin grew up fifty yards from Hatton Garden in Victoria Dwellings, a tenement at the junction of Faringdon Rd and Clerkenwell Rd – the center of his childhood universe in Clerkenwell, London. In 1948, at the age of 8, he began taking pictures of his world– first with a Brownie box camera, then a Leica.
Since then he has captured over half a million images of a London changing, a London now disappeared.
O’Brien’s work is currently on display at the Hackney Museum. But it is permanently available on his website and at Spitalfield’s Life, where he’s a regular contributor– and more lately, subject (e.g., here and here).
[TotH to Richard Rodriguez for the pointer to Spitalfield's Life]
* Samuel Johnson
As we speculate on the special relationship, we might recall that it was on this date in 1945 that the Vigilantes (AKA, the Secret Committee of Ex-Servicemen) broke into a vacant house in Roundhill Crescent, Brighton, to house a homeless sailor’s wife and her two children– the beginning of a “squatters” movement that grew to an estimated 45,000 over the next few years. Even before the Second World War began there had been an acute housing crisis in Britain. During the war, six years of house building were lost, over 100,000 houses were destroyed by bombing, and many hundreds of thousands more were evacuated because of structural damage. So, when the war ended a massive number of families were left homeless. The Vigilantes first targeted unoccupied properties in coastal resorts, then in other cities, and finally abandoned military facilities. While the official reaction was hardly positive, the squatters were ultimately very successful: the Ministry of Works (a government department formed in wartime to take charge of property for military use) handed over 850 former military camps to those occupying them and many of the London squatters were given alternative housing.
“These people are referred to by the ungraceful term ‘squatters’, and I wish the press would not use this word about respectable citizens whose only desire is to have a home.”
- Clementine Churchill, wife of the ex-Prime Minister, August. 1946
“Creativity is that marvelous capacity to grasp mutually distinct realities and draw a spark from their juxtaposition”*…
Artist Bill Domonkos:
I view my work as a collision and recombination of ideas. My process unfolds gradually and spontaneously—using found materials such as archive film footage, photographs, and the internet. I experiment by combining, altering, editing and reassembling using digital technology, special effects and animation to create a new kind of experience. I am interested in the absurd, as well as moments of sublime beauty—to renew and transform materials, experiences and ideas. The extraordinary thing about cinema is its ability to suggest the ineffable—something that cannot or should not be expressed in words, only hinted at through sounds and images. It is this elusive, dreamlike quality that informs my work.
* Max Ernst
As we amuse ourselves with animation, we might recall that it was on this date in 1972 that the first leap second was added to a day. The modern definition of a “second” was settled in 1874 by European scientists working from Muslim scholars’ improvement on Ptolemy’s Second Century calculations. But in the early 1960’s astronomers realized that the rotation of the earth is irregular– fundamentally, it is slowing. Coordinated Universal Time (CUT), calculated with an atomic clock, was systematically slowed each year, for a decade, to compensate…. But that meant that CUT and UTC (the time standard used by broadcasters, transportation providers, and other commercial and military users, a standard still fixed on the original definition of the “second”) were diverging. To true them up, the leap second was added to the UTC. Since 1972, a total of 25 seconds have been added– that’s to say, the Earth has slowed down 25 seconds compared to atomic time since then. (But this does not mean that days are 25 seconds longer nowadays: only the days on which the leap seconds are inserted have 86,401 instead of the usual 86,400 seconds.)
Ed Freeman is a refuge from rock (a road manager on the last Beatle’s tour, a session guitarist, arranger, and producer, perhaps most prominently, of Don MacLean’s “American Pie”) who gave it up for a camera. Among his many continuing photographic projects is a series of pictures captured as he wandered through the small inland towns and deserts of Southern California.
See more of this series (many of which are collected into Freeman’s book, Desert Reality) here.
[TotH to This Isn't Happiness]
* Nadine Gordimer
As we keep an eye out for Ozimandias, we might recall that it was on this date in 1987 that a 16 year-old singer named Tiffany Darwish, who had a major label debut album languishing in record store bins across the nation, ignited her career by playing a concert at the Paramus Park Mall in Paramus, NJ. In a time well before Britney and Hannah, Tiffany’s aim was to supplant Debbie Gibson at the top of the pop heap; but conventional promotion just wasn’t doing it. With Tiffany’s debut album going nowhere on radio or in stores, MCA Records and Tiffany’s personal manager signed on to a radical proposal: having Tiffany join the “Beautiful You: Celebrating the Good Life Shopping Mall Tour ’87″—the kind of promotional tour of American shopping malls then associated only with consumer products like canned soup and hair coloring… The Paramus gig was so successful that Tiffany went on to play malls all across America– and her album went quadruple-platinum.
Readers will remember Lori Nix and her glorious photo collection”Unnatural History.” As it happens, Ms. Nix has been working for even longer on another series, one that centers on intricate dioramas that she constructs and shoots in her Brooklyn apartment.
Over the past eight years, Lori Nix (born 1969) has created meticulously detailed model environments and then photographed them–locations within a fictional city that celebrate modern culture, knowledge and innovation. But her monuments of civilization are abandoned, in a state of ruin where nature has begun to repopulate the spaces. “I am fascinated, maybe even a little obsessed, with the idea of the apocalypse. In addition to my childhood experiences growing up with natural disasters in Kansas, I also watched disaster flicks in the 1970s. Each of these experiences has greatly influenced my photographic work.” Nix considers herself a “faux landscape photographer” and spends months building the complex spaces before photographing them. As critic Sidney Lawrence wrote in Art in America: “Oddly endearing, terrifying and often electrifyingly plausible, [Nix's tableaux] prod us to ponder the fact that, like it or not, our fate is uncertain”
Explore more of Nix’s post-apocalyptic metropolis (and find links to her other work) here.
* Marcus Terentius Varro
As we don’t even try to keep ‘em down on the farm, we might recall that it was on this date in 1861 that Anaheim, California got it first post office and its inaugural Postmaster, John Fischer. Four years earlier, a group of German immigrants, disillusioned with their lot as prospectors in Northern California, moved south to grow grapes; a group of 50 of them settled in what is now Anaheim and founded the town.
Within a few decades the grapes were long gone. Anaheim developed first into an industrial center, producing electronics, aircraft parts and canned fruit, then into a travel destination: it is, of course, the site of the Disneyland Resort, the collection of theme parks and hotels that opened in 1955, Angel Stadium, Honda Center, and the Anaheim Convention Center, the largest convention center on the West Coast.
Readers will know that (R)D delights in the works of Banksy. So it will come as no surprise that your correspondent has a warm spot in his heart for Jeff Friesen. An award-winning photographer, Friesen is also a dedicated dad who makes LEGO dioramas with his daughter June. Their latest project: a series of meticulously-constructed homages to the great street artists himself… a series that Friesen and June call “Bricksy.”
See them all at “Bricksy: LEGO Banksy.”
[TotH to My Modern Met]
As we resolve, with Banksy, to “speak softly, but carry a big can of paint,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1892 that Australia’s first real film production house, The Limelight Department, was set up by the Salvation Army in Melbourne. In its 19 years of operation, the Limelight Department produced both evangelistic material (from the simplest lantern slides to Christian epics of redemption) and secular documentaries commissioned by private and government contract. In all, the operation created about 300 films of various lengths (making it one of largest film producers of its time) until it was summarily closed by a new Commander, a puritanical Scot who “protected” Salvationists from films for many decades. Sadly, the Limelight films were destroyed in the 1950s.