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.