Saturday, 29 August 2009

The Glory of the Pinhole Camera

Justin Quinnell showing us how its done

The Pinhole is camera is one of those really great objects of the photographic which allows you to engage in the art and science of the visual, without spending a fortune. I am paraphrasing the very great man Justin Quinnell here. The newset installation in exhibited images is the 6 month cameras put up around Bristol to map the suns path accross the sky. The results are pretty amazing, truly bringing home the ingenuity that can and should be employed by photographers accross the globe. Catching amazing images of our world which otherwise would never be
seen is a duty, a right, and a bloody great thing to do.

The view from the Cliffton suspension bridge

Justin Quinnell's pinhole cameras can be made from aluminium beer cans, in which he puts film, black tape and a pinhole, hence the name. Themes have included shots from the inside of his mouth, slow light images, catching the suns path from the winter solstice 2007 to the summer solstice 2008, black and white shots, and colour images. The bizarre brain children of the Bristolian entrepeneur create an air of otherworldliness, such a key factor in their eyectaching simplicity. Voyeurs may feel very small when casting their eyes upon such wonderment.

Entitled: Breakfast
The great thing about Quinnell is that he is willing to share his wealth of knowledge to anyone who wishes to hire his services. For more information please visit

I am praying for an exhibit in london very soon, but until then, I am going to get creating!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Rock'n'Roll Theory

I don't really believe in Rock and Roll anymore, at least not in the sense of the here and now. There are many artists, singers and musicians about, holding up the British music charts which, by the by, seem to be hanging by a thread, but very little can truly be called 'Rock'n'Roll'. To put it another way, there is very little which can be called rebellious, outlandish in the non-fashionable sense, or just plain stupid. Many pertain to achieve the highly sought after 'rock status', what with Doherty and Winehouse's stellar drug abuse, and the ever so effervescent way with the public, BUT, if we roll out from the Lester Bangs house of rock, taking stock of the Stooges and of course the upfront Iggy Pop, there seems to be little or nothing in the race to the base of rock.

Bangs puts this little idea of Rockster roll amazingly well;
'Iggy Stooge is a damn fool. He does a lot better fool of himself on stage and vinyl than almost any other performer... That is one of his genius' central facets.'

Tom foolery. It is the way to go. I don't mean teetering all over the stage, coming on late and fucking off before you get through your third song. shooting up and punching your fans is also exempt. So how does it come to the forefront in this day, without the ringleaders musical stylings of the late Fifties, Sixties and Seventies? Who could possibly match up to the Iggy Stooges, Jaggers and Zepplins from those misty days of yore? I really hate myself for this, but it has to be that semi lady-est of ladies, Miss GaGa.

Hold for sharp breathy intake of indignation, then wait for the mindcogs to whirr in introspective realisation. Has anyone seen a Lady GaGa show? Cast your mind back, or get thee to youtube. The strange costumes, the props, minimal sets and token rock-boy looking posers 'shredding riffs' in the background. She is bringing it back. At least in the aesthetic sense. Just check out her amazing sense of style, and the way she looks a little drunk, but holds it together. I am pretty amazed the old guitar smash hasn't been wheeled out for your pleasure. She makes a fool of herself. She knows that however much you take the piss, call her a slag for exposing to all and sundry, and generally have a good ol' laugh at her expense, you have to admire her balls (perhaps a bad choice of words given the rumours).

Oasis, who have given it a fair old whack, and Kasabian, essentially a rock style band for the general population, singing about nothing and changing their appearance with the tides, are unfortunates in this race. They may seem rather R'n'R for one, but its just not cricket. They don't do the foolish. This is the key. Whilst to this day I mourn the passing of The Sixties and Seventies, I am quite pleased that the rebellion lives on, even if it is for the mass produced music industry. it is all round quite pleasing to see.

Monday, 10 August 2009

'Factory Girl' - Devils And Dolls

"An artist is somebody who produces things that people don’t need to have" - Andy Warhol

I have never seen much in the way of advertising for the Guy Pearce / Sienna Miller release, Directed by George Hickenlooper. Released in 2006, it seemed to take a bit of a back seat from the limelight. Somewhat ironic considering the glitzed up content, Pearce's Andy Warhol Sasheying on and off screen combined with Miller's Edie Sedgwick jumping, bumping and rolling throughout the entire plot, if you can indeed call it a plot. The length of the feature shows many of Warhols most famous works, with little or no hooks inbetween to make sense of time or date, documenting the artist that shook the world, and the muse who was dragged down through the weight of 'responsibility', and the obligatory drug use of course. This is a film that takes no prisoners.

The opening gambit portrayes the young Edies Sedgwick as a simple girl with big ideas of becoming an artist, but you quickly learn her childhood was not one to remenisce over. Millers first lines centre around the normal 'happy family' photographs you find donning the mantlepiece of many a home accross the world. 'I could never stand to even look at them. it just made me think, what secrets lay beneath this image'. So we have an image of the poor messed up kid, with no hope of living a normal life, as she is simply trying to escape from everything.

Warhol, on the other hand, is simply an idiot, or so it would seem. Maybe thats to harsh a word for him. He ceratinly isn't the genious everybody thinks, so the director or writers would suggest. The length of the film sees Warhol traipsing about with his Edie Sedgwick, latterly replaced by yet another striking bombshell, vaguely accounting for his art, in a way that presumes boredom and lack of real artistic insight. This is particularly apparent when Hayden Christiansen, playing Edie's Musician boyfriend, exposes the exploitative nature of Warhols filmic endeavours. "blood sucker" I believe was the term used. the very fact that warhol specialised in letting the actors in his films do what they wish is a blindingly obvious coherence with the musicians harsh words.

Interviewer: "some people say your films are pornographic"

Warhol: "oh year, isn't it great?"

The relationship between Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol itself is most poigniantly portrayed through a number of phonecalls, in which the couple discuss their lives, and how they will be remembered. throughout the text, you cannot help but feel sorry for the Edie who has grown so attached to Warhol, who displays fits of attachment, followed by bleak aspects of cold, harsh pacivity towards his blooming star. Her tragic demise is again pinned on the Warhols character, who is by this point beyond his emotive responses to her. His refusal to give money to any of his artists of actors is again a glaring attempt to pin Warhol down as the dominant vampire who fed off everyone around him, leaving nothing to keep for themselves. As Edie says Warhol was "throwing America back in its face...turning the assembly line into a punch line." and this apparently didnt stop with inanimate objects. If personification is the act of turning objects into people, he did the opposite, turning real people into an image for his blank canvas.

Aside from the underlying sense of foreboding and sadness you have for Edie, the intercut sections of 'swinging sixties' in all its glory serve to create a stark boundary between what everyone saw through the cathode rays, and the real life of the studio and the factory. Warhols presentation was only an elegant foray into the scenes of sexual deviance and artisitc seduction. Say what you like about Warhol, he knew exactly how to project a great image out of something America had come to take as a given. Casting a shiny gloss on what was seedy and normal, and selling it back to you for the cost of your soul.

This may seem a dramatic interpretation of a somewhat confused and sombre film, but it is one which I feel the director Hickenlooper and his writers were driving at. And to be honest, Warhol's pedestal is high enough for it to slip a few inches.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Glade 2009- Things to do at the weirdest festival you can possibly imagine!

There are many festivals on the radar these days, but the long standing ones would definitely fall into the category of the weirdest places on Earth! This of course is where Glade and Glastonbury are safely ensconced. There is Reading and Leeds Festival, but in my experience, this is only wierd in the sense that loads of teenager types can be seen doing 'random' things, blowing up shit, and drinking till they vomit, or violate themselves or others, because 'OMG that was so ROTFL!'.
I went to both Glade and Glastonbury Festivals, worked for Oxfam, and had a great time whilst I was doing it! But this isn't an article whih reflects the brilliance of not playing for a festival, or giving your time to charity for a good cause, (though of course this is all good!)
THIS is about those odd situations you find yourself in, when you are doing what you would not normally do at a festival, i.e- staying up all night mildly sober, with a high viz jacket on. First off, these high viz jackets are pretty much a beacon of joy for those who are out of their faces, and they will come and chat to you, and its brilliant!
Glade really highlighted the specific episodes of awesome that were encountered, as that was the time when mine and Jon Hall's job was to walk around the site and make sure everything was running smoothly with other Oxfam Stewards.

The best thing about Glade would be the fact that every Veteran of the Festival, who have been there through rising rain fall, wading through rivers, and site changes, treat it like a second home. Party till you pass out, sleep where you fall, get up and do it all again... with only 20 minutes kip! there are always party 'sustainers' to keep you on top of your game, and plenty of resounding bass lines to keep your mind awake and alert, or at least your body anyway. Best of the Best had to be Moderat, Apparat and Modselektor. Bloody amazing! Great Visuals and an out and out party atmosphere to sink your teeth into. Add to that the fantastic final set on stage at the OVERKILL tent on sunday, namely Ed DMX and really, you couldn't ask for anything more. Sober and still cannot stop dancing?! you know its good!

Truly the best thing about Glade is that everyone is there for the music, and its just as well, it never stops! Dusk till dawn and all that. It got to the point that on the Monday morning, while rolling around the site, doing my final shift with Jon, a fine upstanding member of the oxfam community asked us if the generator we could hear in the distance was actually just some really fast Gabba. This is apparently a regular occurrence, as another Glade Veteran followed this self-same noise once, seeking Gabba, and found 8 or 9 hippy types surrounding a massive generator, grooving to its repetitive output.

The stories you can collect from the punters of the church of Glade are pretty much always amazing. One very fond memory, and several warnings for future Glade goers, came in the form of the scardiest Emo boy I have ever seen walking towards us out of the mid-dawn funk of mashed up sounds, and cheering up us moody buggers who had to work. We learnt this:

1) When finding a big bag of white powder on the floor, be suspicious. If you must take it, don't take loads at once, mix it with Madman, and spend the rest of the night in a hyped up K-hole (yes it was tranquilizer). This will lead to funny results apparently, but I wouldn't advise it as a life rule.

2) When in this little world of your own 'tripping bollocks', don't ring your Dad, its never a good idea. This boy was talking to him for three hours, leading to some sort of classic intervention when he got home!

After this little interlude, we sat around at the gate, Indigo 17, with some lovely Stewarding folk, chatting away and shepherding jaded festivilians. it was getting pretty late, and aside from some minimal ambient drug use, we were all pretty sober. We met a guy from Wycombe. His story followed:
"I knew this guy, from around Wycombe, who took some acid and went to a county fair. He was really off his face. Ended up in a police cell. When he woke up, he asked why he was there. The policeman said 'mate, you punched my horse in the face!', when they had asked why he did it, he said it was because it was the apocalypse, and the horse was on fire." The problem with that logic is, how the hell would you put a horse, who is on fire, out by punching it?!
Never trust the logic of an acid-tripper!.....
As someone who rarely listens to electronic music, Techno, Breakbeat, Hardcore, Dub, Gabba of my own accord, it may be strange that i would HIGHLY rate this festival. Aside from the amazing stories, the truth is that this is the best way to listen to music. Surrounded by sweaty, happy, muddy, dusty, dirty, filthy fun-loving abusers, contemplating a Bass line which shakes you to your very core, and blinds all other senses save for the feeling of the vibration thundering through you. Perfect. Don't expect to sleep much, or eat too well, if at all (unlike most other festivals, there was NEVER a queue for the food bars), but do expect to meet people who are slightly unhinged but social perfection, and amazing electro musical mystical feasts of sound that are not to be beaten!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Boycott Pete Doherty, For Mark Blanco.

On the 8th July 2009, I attended a Charity event for the late Mark Blanco. This event, co-ordinated by his mother, Shiela Blanco, sister, Emma Blanco, and a host of Legal types, such as Michael Wolfkind and Craig Rush, served to raise awareness of the following campaign which has been running since 2006, and will continue to run until justice is served. The event last night touched my heart, and prompted me to write about the case in hand. I wanted everyone to learn about the Blanco family, and their tireless effort to gain closure to their suffering, together with friends, and those benevolent legal advisors who have spent their time on a case they truly believe in.

So please read on, and support a worthy cause.......

On the 3rd December 2006, in the early hours of the morning, MarkBlanco fell two floors to his death after an altercation with the 'artist' now named Peter Doherty. Having been rushed to hospital with severe injuries, within 24 hours he was dead, his family at his bed side. This tragic incident has left the family bereft of a son and a brother, and many friends bereft of a kind hearted, intelligent and creative soul. The strange events that surrounded his untimely death served only to create unrest throughout Mark's inner circle of relations and friends, an unrest which caused their grief to lengthen, with no closure in sight.

The events that preceded centered around a flat , belonging to a Paul Roundhill, in the East End of London. This man, dubiously known as Doherty's 'Literary Agent', is at the centre of the events from here on out. The party was attended by Doherty, a man acting as a sort of security guard, named 'Johnny Headlock', Roundhill himself, a number of females, including a girl named Kate, though accordingly not Miss Moss. Mark himself attended, as he was interested in discussing a new play named 'Accidental Death Of An Anarchist', which he was to be taking part in. Mark was very keen for Doherty to come to a show, as he knew that this would of course raise the profile of the show. Mark really cared for the project, and wanted this play to be a success. Both Roundhill and Headlock allegedly took very badly to him, taking items of his clothing, such as the cap he was wearing, and setting fire to them using lighter fluid. Hardly the antics of kind and gentle young men. Mark is said to have been ejected from the flat once, via the front door, but, upon returning to the flat to pick up his stolen effects, within minutes lay dying on the ground, two floors below. The ambulance was called a full four minutes after the event, by the girls present at the party, in which time Roundhill had only condescended to throw some tissues from the balcony. Doherty himself was seen on CCTV footage running from the area, apparently to attend another party that night.

In statements to the Met. Police following the incident, Johnny Headlock, real name Johnathon Jeannevol, reportedly accused Mark Blanco of being very drunk, which he concluded could have been how he 'fell' from the balcony. The balcony incidentally had a four ft. high railing. Roundhill, who admitted to Marks murder just days after his death, ratracting his statement when questioned later in the proceedings, felt that the young actor was simply star struck, and therefor acting very odly around Doherty. To this, friends and family have responded that, having been educated at Cambridge University, Mark had rubbed shoulders with many famous and noteworthy persons, and had bee taught to take this all in his stride.

All this aside, there was a second injustice to be done, this time by the initial Policing of the incident. after a few hours spent at the scene, the area was re-opened. One particularly harsh blow to Marks mother, Shiela, she visited the scene a few hours after marks death, where she discovered one of his glass lenses lying on the ground. Obviously there had been no thorough forensic investigation carried out. however, Scotland Yard still insist that there was a fully investigation carried about before the decision was made to close the crime scene completely. Marks death was apparently free from 'suspicious circumstances.'

The painful mistrust and desperation for truth, felt by Ms Blanco, led her to pay for a private post-mortem, when it was discovered that there was in fact no trace of alcohol or drugs, in his system. This fuelled the fire, and still today the fight is continuing for justice.

To date, Shiela and her family has spent more than 25,000 pounds on the legal battle, but there does not seem to be an end in sight. Doherty, who has been in the courts more times than can be counted, and who has consistently failed to appear at his own hearings, still evades any kind of real sentencing for any of his offences. Whilst Ms Blanco states that she has no positive or negative feelings towards Doherty, but just just wants to know the truth, it seems that the three key witnesses who could give her the ability to move on, refuse to do what is honorouble.

The Benefit / Memorial event which I attended was both moving and wondeful. It was a testament to the sheer strength of human character. Shiela was amazing, speaking about her son with a warmth and love which brought such awe to everyone in the auditorium. Mark's friends, many of them performers and artists like him, described Mark in such a way that he seemed to take shape before our very eyes, fleshed out by stories about his life, his passions, and his posessions that he owned and doted on. It is a very sad thing when people can tell you all about someone and you just wish you could have met them. Mark was a budding Actor, Magician, Philosopher, and Writer. I had the pleasure of hearing one of Marks short stories, and from this I can also say he was a very humourous man. Everyone who knew him gave him such a shining appraisal, that it became more than words, but pure love and affection that was palpable.

Though the heading of this article may seem very bitter towards Doherty, it is the love that I felt through the friends and family, in their words and their performances, that compelled me to write this, because I truly want everyone to know, and to help as much as they can, to bring family and friends of Mark to a point where they can keep the memory of Mark alive, and not the horrible way he met his end.

If this has touched any part of your heart, and made you feel sad for the loss of such a wonderful person, please go to below address and help Shiela and Emma Blanco to put and end to this. Please follow and support this case, because there is strength in numbers.

Thankyou for reading.

Please send donations to:
The Mark Blanco Fund
PO Box 160
12A North Street,