The City That Sleeps Where They Fell

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Taken January 2014, Hasselblad 503cw + Zeiss Distagon T✻ 40mm f/4 CF FLE, Fujifilm Neopan Presto. Hamburg, Germany.

This reminds me of my favourite books, Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. It’s an amazing book that describes a number of imaginary cities. Each city has strange or unusual aspects, at first they all seem fantastic and nonsensical. Eventually themes and patterns start to emerge, and you start to read into them ideas of time, love, existence / non-existence, memory.

It has been a few years since i re-read it – my copies generally get given away… some how it never seems to have the same impact as it had for me, or at least nobody has ever come back and told me that they are still thinking about weeks later.

Maybe if i read more books like Invisible Cities i’d take more photographs like the above. Photographs were everything seems not quite right, where the scale is confusing, where you’re not really sure about anything.

Also, people people tend to stare when you kneel down in puddles with a big camera.

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Prints

IMG_2997For the ten years or so that we have been working on I Wrote This For You there have been a couple of attempts make the prints available… all of which amounted to not very much.

My feeling has always been that if people are going to buy photography it should be real. And “real”, in this case would means darkroom gelatin-silver wet prints. Unfortunately, prints produced in this way are stupidly expensive and logistically a nightmare.

The doll print over there is 40x40cm and costs a minimum of 100€ to produce. That’s without mount and frame. It would be less if i was printing them myself, but the investment required in equipment (lab space, enlarger, drier, press, etc) and time would be huge. Oh, and the 10,000 hours it might take to become as proficient as my current printer!
IMG_1715Then there is shipping. There are lovely 60×50 prints that have been made for Iain and Michelle that have been sitting in my office for months simply because i can’t face rolling (and potentially ruining) them to be shipped in cardboard tubes. When they arrived they’d need to re-pressed and even then there is a good chance that they’d be damaged.

All of which suggests that it if i want to make prints available some compromise ‹‹sharp intake of breath›› might be required!

One alternative is to find a online print service where i upload hi-res scans of some of the more popular images to a web-shop, and they take care of printing and shipping. My guess is that there is a huge range of options out there, going all the way from ‘print your images on a mug!’* to ‘hand made digital c-type prints‘… intimidating. Can already feel myself becoming paralysed by choice.

And there is the question of interest. During the last ten years there have been only a handful of times that people have expressed interest purchasing the images of IWTFY. Admittedly i’ve done close to nothing to make that an option, but it may well be that the idea is out of step with the audience.

Rather than ask if there is any interest (although i’ll listen if it is there), i’m going to explore this some more and see if it is viable. Mostly it will come down to being something that can be managed and run in the limited time that i have available. If you’ve used, and more importantly would recommend, a particular service let me know.

* – we already do some of this, on a limited scale at Society6.

The Nature Starts To Turn

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Taken April 2009, Hasselblad 503cw + Zeiss Planar T✻ 80mm + Fujifilm Provia 100F. Kanagawa, Japan.

Every spring, as hanami season kicks off, you promise yourself that this year you won’t go and take cliched shots of the cheery blossoms. Inevitably you go and take cliched pictures of the cherry blossom. Don’t even want to think about how many i must have taken over the years.

There are several more in the book taken in the same park close to out place. Unfortunately my favourite from that year didn’t make the cut. It might not even appear in the blog:

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Cherry blossom monochrome probably isn’t everyone’s first choice. The colour version doesn’t really work. It could probably be improved with re-processing, but the above just seems much better balanced.

Nine years ago. We’ve been working on this for a looooong time!

Edit: my work schedule is a little crazy at the moment… there will likely be some gaps between entries until things calm down.

The Memory of Beauty

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Taken November 2011, Hasselblad 503cw + Zeiss Distagon T✻ 40mm f/4 CF FLE + Ilford Delta 400 Professional. Hamburg Airport, Germany.

I remember being quite excited about this. It was soon after we’d got settled, and it felt possible that i could, photographically, pick up where i’d left off in Tokyo… of course it didn’t work out that way. While there are architecturally interesting buildings / structures in Hamburg it’s just on a completely different scale.

It would definitely be possible to do a Bernd & Hilla Becher / Düsseldorf School cataloging of, say, post war buildings, or railway stations, the motivation just isn’t there. And, it isn’t that i’ve not tried, just to see if i get caught up in it… not at all. Cataloging or collecting things, organising them just for the sake of it does nothing for me. It doesn’t with belongings, never has, and photographs seem to be no different.

It’s tempting to make excuses, about how the density, visual and otherwise, of Tokyo has left me struggling to fill a frame in ways that are new and stimulating, etc. And, there may well be some truth to it… but the reality is that i simply struggle to make the time to be creative. Without the external stimuli of like minds i’ve retreated from whatever it was that made me go out and photograph.

No excuses.

I’ve taken a lot of photographs since moving back to Europe. Some of them have made me very happy. It does no good to dwell of how easy it was to be inspired in the past. It would be best to make more time to be creative, to make space for a more playful approach, and see how things develop. It cannot be forced and be anything but a burden.

The Crowded Life

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Taken April 2010, Hasselblad 503cw + Zeiss Planar T✻ 80mm + Ilford SFX-200 + R72 Filter. Ginza, Tokyo.

The astute among you will immediately realise that this isn’t the original shot – it was taken a few years after the entry was posted. There were a couple of times during the process of putting together this book that the image that went with an entry just didn’t feel right, was something i now didn’t like, or in a couple of cases, wasn’t high enough quality to print… crops out of images, etc.

This was one that just didn’t feel right… which left me in the position of having to find an image that a) was sympathetic to the text

You can have the entire world around you and yet still be completely alone.

and b) hadn’t been used for anything else. Fortunately my stash of unused pictures is larger, by quite a margin, than the number of entries on the blog. There are many rolls of film that are, from the blogs point of view, completely unseen. These “Various Failures” are usually part of other projects or development of ideas that never really worked out.

People often ask how we go about matching up images and poems. Our answer is generally non-committal – we’ve tried all of the variations, but in general i send images to Iain, and he either writes from them, or matches them up with ideas that are not yet complete.

However, in this case i get to tell you that i picked this image as, for me, it captures the feeling of isolation in a big city like Tokyo. People flowing by, an indistinct blur of faces in a crowd. You’re surrounded by people, literally “cheek by jowl” at 200% capacity in a train carriage, but most utterly alone.

This was taken on the same day as ‘The Mirror Hurts‘… oh, and i wasn’t alone.

The Twins

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Taken November 2008, Canon 10D + EF50mm ƒ1.2L. Roppongi, Tokyo.

This was probably taken while out with the ‘Fragments of Tokyo’ members. If i remember rightly we’d been out for dinner (sushi) in Nogizaka and were wandering the streets.

Not really sure what was going on with me at that time. It was post ‘not working, walking in the mountains’ phase, but the mood seems to be quite dark. Something else from the same night:

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Tokyo as dystopia… not that it isn’t.

The taxi theme is rather nostalgic / significant for me. Earlier that year i’d gone to an exhibition, put up by MotionId and Zebrio, in a bar (in Daikanyama) which was my first introduction to  the little group (now mostly scattered around the world) that kept me entertained / sane for the next three years.

Shimmy and shake!

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That got a little strange.

The Pain Unfelt

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Taken May 2012, Canon 5D Mk2 + EF24mm ƒ1.4L. Hamburg, Germany.

A single pane of modern, blue tinted, almost mirrored, glass. This was taken at the back of one of the Deichtorhallen… halls, presumably after a visit to the Anthony Gormley ‘Horizon Field Hamburg‘ installation.

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The above might even be a view through from the other side… that seems strange, but the ceiling lights seem right. It’s hard to get an idea of the scale. You can see a few people stand on there. It’s big… “but is it art?”

Not sure what it is that appeals to me about the shot… presumably if it hadn’t had the one “special” pane it wouldn’t even have caught my eye, but that little splash of blue makes it into a view in another world.

Edit: was in the area yesterday and went to look for the window. It’s not there now. Maybe it exists in another dimension / parallel world into which only my camera can see?