Ten Years Ago Today

2009-04-28 12:16:28
Ten Years Ago today, I was in a place called Waurn Ponds about 2 hours west of Melbourne. On my way to a school camp. It seems like the best I made on the day?
This picture was made with a Sony Ericsson C902. A 5 megapixel camera with full internet functionality. I had chosen this over the iPhone 3 for this reason alone. My current phone shoots raw so colour and exposure in this situation would have been easily corrected. Sadly even with 2019 tools like Lightroom I doubt I'm going to get much more from this image.

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Solo Show Talk

I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of this land. And pay my respect to its elders past and present.

Thank you everyone for coming today. I would like to thank Brimbank council and their arts staff Lisa & Micheal. All their excellent support and help throughout the entire process makes these things a breeze. I would also like to thank all the Students who keep me fresh and on my toes and as always my accomplice in crime my wife.

Putting together this show I discovered a strange fact. This is the first solo exhibition I have had of silver gelatine prints since 1996. Even I balked at that date! I began exhibiting over 30 years ago and still feel as nervous speaking about my work even after all this time.

I would like, if I may then, begin then by quoting one of main inspirations; Robert Adams.
“Nothing diminishes the affirmation of the sun.”

Most of my work attempts to have this philosophy underpinning it. I am a fortunate as a creative to have never had a client so all my work is driven by my own impulses and desires. This has afforded me the privilege of making pictures of what I please when I please. We never operate in a vacuum however. My sources inspirations and motivations are as wide as they are deep. Ezra Pounds’ classic poem Wastelands often runs though my mind when researching locations. How fortuitous that this show opens at the end of April, the cruellest month according to Pound in his poem. In my early days my subject matter was also inspired by the Beats. Their celebration of modern cities and street life. Ideas of the dark alleys and neglected corners of all cities and suburbs that we may avoid. Passing them engrossed in our own thoughts. Unable or unwilling to pay attention to our surroundings. Other inspirations are Robert Adams’ photographs as well his prose. Richard Misrach's politicised Desert Cantos series, is beautiful and yet heart breaking.

One of the aims of my work is to invite the viewer to see beyond the ugliness in the subject matter as presented. I use subtle compositions and careful printing of the images to address this. I love a long tonal scale and complex compositions. These weave together with line and form. Leading the viewer to attempt to look beyond subject matter of the prints themselves.

All the prints are made using hardware and software that accentuates tonal scale. I spend an inordinate amount of time in camera to making the pictures.  Depending on lighting and weather conditions minutes of hours. A print itself can take between a day and a month to resolve. The work is then pinned up in my studio darkroom as I build upon it. I take my time rearranging the work and even add subtract or reprint as I see fit. For this exhibition this process began in October last year. The final edit began in March. The prints spread out in my studio as I contemplated their final sequence.

I make my own film and paper developers and use these tools to make the best possible print I can. Currently I make far more negatives than I have time to print. This has resulted in an archive. When I first started making photographic art I never intended to create such a thing. This archive now underpins and on occasion drives forward a part of what I do. The western and northern suburbs are changing dramatically.  The act of capturing this has attained a sense of urgency now.

As I was schooled in the modernist idea of the fine print. I decided on a film and film developer combination many years ago.  And have continued to use this combination to this day. I chose the two for fine grain and long tonal scales. Occasionally, I draw on other paper developers. These  can be an intuitive or technical choice.  I generally use a technique called split filter printing. This technique uses two variable contrast filters to determine exposures. This technique allows for very subtle manipulation of the prints. And I hope beg the viewer to look a little harder and longer at the image in front of them. 

Living here since 2000 has made my image making process more time efficient. My archive continues to grow as a consequence. Having only to often throw a camera or two in my car then drive off for 15 minutes or so an begin making pictures. I feel like I have truly found my place.

Currently this body of work is an open ended project. It began by me walking in places, for their strangeness. Not to mention uniqueness, and  incongruity. 

Let me finish by quoting another idea. From, William Carlos Williams.
“It is difficult to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack of what is found there,”

I hope you find some poetry or some news in my work; or whatever it is you’re looking for.

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Silver in Sunshine 2019 Solo Exhibtion

For the first time since 1996, I am having a solo exhibition of my silver gelatin prints. Here are some views of the space before the opening.

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Early memories of the internet?

Embassy of the internet survey

The embassy of the Internet put out a survey recently, here are my responses.
  • Username/Name:  s2art
  • Age: 50+
  • Gender: M
  • Location: Antipodes
  • Job Role/Description: Educator; since 1993
What do you first remember most fondly about using the internet?
My first exposure was really to the WWW. I was doing my teacher training. One subject got us looking at technology in the classroom. I sat at a computer and “surfed” not really knowing what to look for or find. I guess due to bandwidth concerns my University blocked ALL images. So I was completely underwhelmed by that experience. I was an Art/Photography major at that school. Within 12 months however I was working in  a photography department of a school whose HOD saw that this was important and connected the department to the internet with a dedicated line. I also acquired a desktop computer and had my own connection to the WWW. At the time had a friend who was a  from Rochester in the USA. He put me onto listservs and mail groups. My early days of internet communications came from these groups and I spent many an hour dutifully downloading my mail each working. Reading it offline. Then reconnecting the next morning and sending my replies. Over the years I found many tools for online communication. My favourite has always been email however. Not long after came learning html and blogging, then flickr.com, and instagram. What I really loved about my early years of the WWW was to ‘surf’. Drifting from homepage to homepage. Discovering some real gems.

What do you think has changed the most since your early years on the web?
The demise of homepages and to a certain extent blogging. The WWW is really now an ‘app’ and few people experience it outside of their phones and tablets. When it so much more than that.

How do you use the internet and what do you mostly use it for?
Research, entertainment, shopping, as well as my own publishing to flickr and blogging.

What is your biggest concern about the internet and/or the future of the web?
The balkanisation of the web by a few services, apple, facebook, google, instagram etc.

What would you change about the way we use the internet or how it is controlled now?
It’s difficult to know how to reclaim those early days. Maybe it isn’t even a wise premise to expect?

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Twenty First Century Publishing?

A screen grab from Craig Mod's Website.

From April 15th Craig Mod is shunting off on a 1,000 kilometer walk across a chunk of Japan. Six planned weeks, possibly a few more.
The trails and sub-trails he'll be walking are numerous, but broadly speaking, he is walking from Tokyo to Kyoto along the historic Nakasendo highway. He wrote a bit about the planning over on Ridgeline: “Exquisite Boredom and the Long Walk.“


BBC Four's Podcast on the Internet

How is technology changing the way we see? The artist James Bridle reimagines John Berger’s Ways of Seeing for the digital age and reveals the internet’s hidden infrastructure.
Listen Here

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Fortune favours the prepared

Stuck in traffic AGAIN!
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Travels & Trips

A screen grab from Lightroom showing some of the images 
awaiting editing and processing
Over on Tumblr I started a page that documented holiday snaps.
After the recent fire that damaged the Notre Dame I went looking for images I had of our two visits there. First on the Tumblr page. I was surprised I had NOT posted any. So over to my archive and sure enough all 2182 pictures from our 2011 trip were sitting waiting to be sorted processed and uploaded. I will split my time over the coming days between framing my 14 silver gelatin prints and editing and processing the 2012 trip. This trip included, Hong Kong, Paris, The South of France, and London.

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Helvetica Gets a Facelift!

A screengrab from the animation
Helvetica is so ubiquitous it borders on boring. I myself try to avoid it. It’s getting a facelift. Watch this screen animation to see where its heading, as an animation is great. The new font looks good too.

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Ten Years Ago Today [TBT]

This is one of a handful pictures I made ten years ago today, and was also made on a Thursday.
This view is gone. I am always staring at the sky especially around dusk in autumn and spring.
Two of Melbourne's best season in my humble opinion.

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Counting down the days

24 handmade exhibition catalogues
With my upcoming solo exhibition less than 10 days away from opening I’m feeling both nervous and excited. The last time I exhibited a solo show of silver gelatin prints was 1996. I was still learning HTML then.  Scanning any files to upload to the internet and had no unique uri or domain. My early experiments in mobile phone photography had their own blog This however still seemed somewhat seperate and different to exhibiting silver gelatin prints in a gallery space and had only operated since 2006. The print themselves I still have, but I have never digitised them, and all I have is a digitised version of the essay by Margot Rosser. I also barely knew how to use Microsoft word. It would be some years before I could use a program like Quark, and now of course I’m fairly fluent in Indesign. This means I can make my own mini exhibition catalogues. I made 24 catalogues for this show. As a process I enjoy it immensely. Logistically it means less work in the space.

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Farewell Wordpress?

19cm x 19cm silver gelatin print
from 2019 solo exhibition

I am running out of storage pace on my wordpress account. This combined with watching many companies subsume others over the 25 years I have used the internet has me contemplating exit strategies all over the place.
My accounts with things like Dropbox, and Evernote are somewhat moot points but I'd like my legacy in pictures and some of the words I've written left in place in perpetuity. Blogger.com seems a likely candidate. I'd like to think that Google isn't going anywhere anytime soon. But nothing is permanent on the internet just look at Yahoo, now owned by a larger corporation. So with this I mind here is my new photography blog.

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