Two shots here, separated by about six months. A fascination with corrugated iron is the most obvious visual connection, but there are aspects of an aesthetic which some might identify as grunge – although I am not really a fan of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, or other grunge bands. Look at the work of New Zealand sculptor, Jeff Thomson, and you might get some insight into the fascination.
A year ago – almost to the day – I opened a new document and gave it this name, but did no writing in it. My intention, if I recall correctly, had been to use Samuel Beckett’s words (from Worstward Ho) as the seed of something. Since then, the draft has seen the light of day more than once – but with no demonstrable result.
Along the way, I’ve written and photographed … and, from time to time, published. You might have noticed that this is my first post for the New Year … and that I’ve put nothing up since before Christmas. So Beckett’s text is apt. As ever.
Perhaps, I told myself, today, a new WordPress theme will inspire me. Well, yes … having tried a couple, I concluded that the old stuff looked awful in the new themes. So I’ve reverted to the old Tarski.
“Unchanged? Sudden back unchanged? Yes. Say yes. Each time unchanged. Somehow unchanged. Till no. Till say no. Sudden back changed. Somehow changed. Each time somehow changed.” (Samuel Beckett, in Worstward Ho)
During the past twenty-four hours, I’ve been considering that |cross-ties| is fundamentally – or, at least, primarily – a photo-blog. And the photos I seem to like best are like this one. So that’s it … for now.
“Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” (ibid)
“Samuel Beckett is sui generis … He has given a voice to the decrepit and maimed and inarticulate, men and women at the end of their tether, past pose or pretense, past claim of meaningful existence. He seems to say that only there and then, as metabolism lowers, amid God’s paucity, not his plenty, can the core of the human condition be approached … Yet his musical cadences, his wrought and precise sentences, cannot help but stave off the void … Like salamanders we survive in his fire.” (Richard Ellman)
Worstward Ho is a prose piece by Samuel Beckett. Its title is a parody of Charles Kingsley’s Westward Ho!. Written in English in 1983, it is the penultimate novella by Beckett. Together with Company and Ill Seen Ill Said, it was collected in the volume Nohow On in 1989 (Wikipedia: Worstward Ho [stub]).
Colin Greenslaw has done an elaborated version of Worstward Ho (interpolated with what he calls ‘expansions’ of the original text), which can be found on the Samuel Beckett On-line Resources and Links Pages.
On the Empire of Lights web-site is a ‘picture series’ which photographer Tobias M Schiel has titled “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” (Samuel Beckett). Very good.
A friend has more than once suggested that I could use some of my “abstract” photographs as a start-point for paintings. Another friend, seeing this new photograph today, said it could be a painting. Okay, I guess it could. But I would find that difficult, since it seems finished – complete in itself. There is nothing missing for me to paint.
The white tag is one I’ve begun to recognize, although I can’t begin to decipher the letters.
The word ‘TOWER’ is part of a two-word phrase I suspect of being an anti-capitalist slogan.
The orange-red initials? Territorial marking, perhaps.
Recognition and familiarity are by no means synonymous with legibility, and comprehension does not necessarily follow.
Some degree of communication has taken place, nevertheless.
In noticing and photographing, Photoshopping and posting, I have made it art, have I not?
The premises upstairs at 97 Victoria Street used to be a brothel. More recently, Club 97 offered massage. It seems not to have succeeded.
“Any work of art that can be understood is the product of journalism” (Tristan Tzara)
“The medium is the massage.” (Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore)
PS: This image came to light recently amongst a number of selected shots in a folder dated 2009. I have subsequently discovered its original, which dates from August 2006.
Urban environments offer me the possibility to explore my own sense of space. In doing so, light always triggers me. I’m fascinated by the way light is able to change the geometry of a certain space, which looks different one minute to the next, offering new geometric shapes all over again. (Wilma Eras, on her blog, Erassima)
A photographer friend commented to me recently: “Not many people can appreciate abstracts.” As one strongly attracted to abstract photography – and to abstract art in general – I’m not convinced he’s right. But then, the term “abstract” has different meanings for different people.
“Abstraction exists along a continuum” – as the Wikipedia article on abstract art so succinctly puts it. For me, Rudolph Arnheim’s pithy summation works equally well in relation to abstract photography: “Abstract art uses a visual language of form, color and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world.” (Rudolph Arnheim, in Visual Thinking)
The proliferation of internet-based photo-media makes it increasingly easy for anyone who, like me, has greedy eyes to spend hour after hour in front of a computer screen. But I do have my favourites.
From time to time I look in on Erassima, the blog of Wilma Eras – who hails from the Netherlands. Responses to her image, “repaint your city”, include the following from Richard Guest: “Lovely balance between abstraction and physicality – I really like them!” That balance is something I really value, too.
In February this year, a blog calling itself Red Square Gallery featured a folio of photos Wilma described as “Urban scenes painted by shadows.”
Graffiti, tags and street art seem to be among the current hot attractions for photographers. But few of them seem keen to engage explicitly in the ongoing anger-charged discourse on the subject of “tagging as vandalism”. But that is another topic … for another post.
I have more than a few friends who all seem desperately to need to be right. Each and every one of them has a favourite topic – a hobby-horse – and an incontrovertible line of argument.
And well-thought-out opinions, in fact, on every subject, whether crucial or trivial.
But they don’t agree among themselves … and not one of them agrees with me.
There must be some over-arching or all-embracing truth somewhere, but the only thing I’m sure about is that I haven’t got it sussed.
It would appear that the “grumpy cat avatar” has become a sacred icon, an oracle, the mouthpiece of truth. Click on him and you’ll find he redirects to a painting by Seki Seisetsu (1877-1944), which features the same text.
And when you’re done with that, you might look at a piece about some famous words of Seng-ts’an: “Do not seek the truth; only cease to cherish opinions.”
“Do you ever doubt your own ideas? All the time. You should read what happens in linguistics. I keep changing what I said. Any person who is intellectually alive changes his ideas. If anyone at a university is teaching the same thing they were teaching five years ago, either the field is dead, or they haven’t been thinking.” (Noam Chomsky)
And always the changing light:
silver, pewter, moth wing,
Greys in Jack’s eyes too:
sunshine, seen through rain.
Francesca Kay’s novel (which I have just read) is at times pure poetry – which is why I have presented this two-sentence citation as a poem.
Kay, Francesca. 2009. An equal stillness. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson [pp 181-2]
‘This feels really pure, a blessing, baptismal even.’ (Elizabeth Thomson)
In May 2011, a group of artists from the South Pacific region travelled on HMNZS Otago to a place rarely explored – the sea and islands of the Kermadecs.
The Kermadecs are the most remote part of New Zealand. Despite their natural and historical significance, our awareness of the islands and surrounding waters is slight.
The Kermadec Artists Voyage provided some of our finest communicators an opportunity to document a unique encounter with one of the greatest, least known, pristine ocean sites on the planet. (from Kermadec: Nine artists in the South Pacific)
In conversation with Ruth Harvey for Art New Zealand, Elizabeth Thomson talked about the work pictured here, explaining why she strives for photographic realism (ie, why she doesn’t want the brush-strokes to show):
I don’t want to get in the way of how the work is read. It’s not about me, it’s about the concept. If my hand was visible the work would have less dimension.
Immersion: A Conversation with Elizabeth Thomson begins on page 30 of Art New Zealand, Number 143, Spring 2012.
KERMADEC – Nine Artists in the South Pacific opened on 04 October at the City Gallery Wellington, and runs until 10 February 2013. For further details, go to http://www.thekermadecs.org/wakey-wakey-wakey
ELIZABETH THOMSON (born in Auckland, 1955) is a sculptor/installation artist, whose work often engages imaginatively with the Pacific region. In her early twenties, she lived on Christmas Island for six months and her experiences from that time continue to shape her artistic life. Thomson’s work also has strong connections with biology, physics and other areas of science. A major survey of her work, ‘Elizabeth Thomson—My Hi Fi my Sci Fi’ toured the country in 2006-7. She is represented by Mark Hutchins Gallery, Wellington; Two Rooms, Auckland; Nadene Milne Gallery, Arrowtown and RH-Art, Upper Moutere. (from a website called The Kermadecs.
The image of the artwork: Elizabeth Thomson, Sunday Island (2011), bronze, zinc, oil pigment, lacquer, hand-formed glass, acrylic on wood disc. One of the works in ‘Kermadec’ which runs at City Gallery, Wellington from 04 October 2012 until 10 February 2013.