THE BEST OF: Mako Mori

Mako Mori – Gypsy Danger’s female pilot and general badass lady. There are many “looks” that can be Mori, below represent the best of the armour and the jumpsuit outfits, Mako’s most iconic from the film pacific rim. It would be great to see/ shoot a team Gypsy Danger cosplay, or young Mako.

See more from the cosplayers here:
eruha (Japan)
Exantis Kraestor (Singapore)
Josie (Taiwan)
Faye Ashley
Stella Chu (US)

& the photographers here:
Zhirong Fu
OnigiriWasabi
Mineralblu Photography

THE BEST OF: Kakashi Hatake

I have to admit this post is purely selfish… Kakashi is my one and only anime crush, so finding the best cosplays of him gives me nothing but joy. These fans give the perfect Kakashi- the understated hero with an element of Peter Pan’s boyish nature.

Check out all the cosplayers here:
firecasterx2 (Jo) (UK)
key0fdestiny13 (US)
YASU (South Korea)
kingrock (Taiwan)
kurosakikage (Taiwan)

& photographers here:
thephotogrumbler
ErosTurranos

‘The Groupies’ by Baron Wolman

Groupies, the original fangirls – dedicated and devoted to rock stars. In the 60’s rock photography legend & chief photographer at Rolling Stone magazine, Baron Wolman photographed these obsessed young girls who were willing to dedicate their lives to getting the attention of rock stars. Wolman gave the followers a change of authority and take centre stage in their own right. Wolman believed that groupies deserved a place on the cover of Rolling Stone just as much as the rockers they loved.

Today groupies have almost levelled up to become the fangirl – to debate which is healthier or more dedicated would be a pointless exercise, the digital age now allows fans to build a fantasy relationship with their idols from the other side of the world, whereas before, groupies would have to follow the band from city to city in order to be a true fan, rather than just on twitter. The prior method meant devotion was built on “real” interaction but a place to call home and often morals were compromised. It would be interesting to consider how technology and digital culture has fed the culture of groupies and transformed them into something completely new.

See the full series here.

CosplayGen X Cristian Dîrstar

Cosplay Gen is the bible of cosplay, from interviews to tutorials, the magazine showcases the best of cosplay and gives you an insight into the minds of dedicated cosplayers – and best of all it is made by fans for fans.

Below are promo cards for issue 3, taking some of the best cosplays from the issue and mixing them up with illustrations by Cristian Dîrstar – it’s interesting to see cosplayers who dress as real life versions of drawn characters being drawn themselves, seems like a weird paradox but we love it.

See the full series here.

The artwork of Natsumi Eguchi (Hōzuki no Reitetsu)

Can we just take a moment to observe the beauty of mangaka Natsumi Eguchi’s illustrations for Hōzuki no Reitetsu. I mean seriously!!

Combining traditional Japanese art and manga in a modern way, Natsumi Eguchi’s drawings combined with the dark comedy storyline makes this Manga/Anime so original. I want the books purely for the covers, and immerse myself in this stunning world he has created. His work gives me ideas for a cosplay shoot… watch this space!

Reading List: A Sneak Peek

My birthday is fast approaching, and to make the most of it all I am asking for is books, over the last 6 months I’ve been working as an assistant for photographer Robbie Cooper but with no income – so my reading list on amazon is now miles long, my lack of funds is the main reason I haven’t written too many book related posts recently. These books are on the reading list for the MA at Kings College London I’m applying for next year and a few more that I’ve found – I can’t wait until mid may to sink my teeth into them all!

This post is just to give you guys a sneak peak of what’s to come in the book department over the next six months.

THE BEST OF: Rider, Fate/ Stay Night

Usually I only blog about characters and anime I have seen, Fate/Stay Night however – I am yet to watch. I’ve been recommended it by friends but have never given it a chance; however after seeing these great cosplays of a character called Rider I might start. Character design is a big part of why I and a lot of others watch anime, I tend to like the more obscure edgy looks, rather than the frilly dresses or school uniforms. Rider ticks all the boxes, I only hope the FSN lives up to the style of Rider.

From aspirations of beauty to intelligence

I’m a big believer in how childhood can profoundly shape your adult life, particularly in regards to the toys you play with. Even though society has progressed to almost equal pay for boys and girls it seems that toy shops are still insisting little girls grow up to be princesses and mummies whereas boys be train drivers and fire fighters.

Goldieblox is one company who are trying to change this – by launching engineering kits for little girls. Let’s be honest most kids would be happy with a cardboard box, so they only reason girls are given dolls and plastic ovens is because that’s what society tells them they should play with and aspire too.

I am all for this product and am excited that the future generation of girls will be empowered and intelligence encouraged over beauty.

Princess Shirahoshi, One Piece cosplay by Ajo

I have avoided One Piece for years – simply for the fact it took me 6 years to catch up on Naruto (& Shippuden) – I have no desire to spend the next six watching all 639 episodes of One Piece. However this photography series I could not avoid! Finding a unique style within the world of cosplay photography can be hard – the unknown photographer who shot this series however is a hidden gem. Their styling and use of colour in this series is only enhanced by the beauty and talent of cosplayer Ajo. I only wish I knew who shot them.

THE BEST OF: San – Princess Mononoke

San, the wolf-raised female warrior makes for a great cosplay. She’s a visual delight – a mix between masculine and feminine and an alternative for girls who don’t want to wear skimpy outfit’s or be “kawaii”. These cosplayers bring the Studio Ghibli heroine from the flat screen into our world.

See more of the best cosplay here.

Modern Couples by Carlotta Cardana

Italian photographer Carlotta Cardana explores multiple themes in her ongoing series ‘Modern Couples’ – firstly- subcultures, in particular 2014’s take on the 1960’s British mod movement. Carlotta photographs quirky couples who ooze class and sophistication. Another theme Carlotta explores is relationships and how two people can blend to become almost one.

The most intriguing theme Carlotta talks about is the freedom she gave to each couple, allowing them to style themselves and choose a location, on her site she talks about how she wanted to look beyond the clothing and get the couples to project themselves through their image.

It’s a lovely series that surreally immerses us into a vintage version of our modern age, it seems so detached from “reality”. What I love is the stillness throughout the series – although each couple is uniquely different the images (like her take on relationships) almost become one, this is due to Carlotta’s brilliant editing and how she maintained a deadpean-esque feel that lets the clothes, objects and environment speak for the couples.

See all of Carlotta’s work here.

John Olson – 70’s Rock stars at home with their parents for LIFE magazine

John Olson worked with LIFE magazine to smash all the preconceptions and “coolness” of rockstars – photographing them with their parents at home – we see independent, iconic and untouchable idols brought down to a human level, no longer rock gods. This project is very humbling and despite being made in the early 70’s is a theme that is still current and interesting.

Rags to Riches: The Fangirl Phenomena by PopMatters

Written by Faith Korpi – PopMatters.com
See the original article here.

Urbandictionary.com defines “fangirls” as “young fanatical females… (who) suffer an absurd affinity for a randomly chosen object of obsession and base their life/daily schedule around it.” But we think of them as the girls who line up for hours and even days before meet and greets, book or CD signings, ticket sales openings, or some such event where their dearly beloveds are involved. Armed with homemade signs, T-Shirts and brain-splitting screams, fangirls can turn critically un-acclaimed albums double platinum and make shakily written fiction into a worldwide phenomenon. I can’t help but feel that if these girls gathered at the edge of the Red Sea, it would part.

What distinguishes a fangirl from the average fan are unrivaled displays of devotion and a willingness to spend countless hours and dollars paying homage to those they love. Fangirls are typically ages 12 -18, or as The New York Times put it, “old enough to be culturally aware but not old enough to second-guess themselves.” (“Cue the Shrieking Girls for the Band of Their Moment”, by Jon Caramanica, 10 August 2008) Mostly from suburban middle-class homes, they have the time and the disposable income to devote to their chosen stars. It may start as a crush or admiration, but what these girls end up being are the best publicists any celebrity could hope for. They will spread accolades all over the media free of charge. And to top it all off, they (or rather, their parents) will fund an artist’s big fat paycheck just by purchasing everything they put out on the market.

We don’t typically credit fangirls with being an astonishing breed of Super Fan – they’re not quite in the same category as people who dress up like hobbits or attend Star Trek conventions. Usually, we just roll our eyes at them, get annoyed when they occupy a row in the movie theater in front of us and “oh-em-gee” at trailers, and yes, we get upset when musical artists we like endorse things they like (cough) New Moon soundtrack (cough, cough). But take a quick look at fangirl history and you will realize that fangirls’ devotion has “made” some of the most significant players in pop culture history.

Consider the very first modern pop superstar: Frank Sinatra. Sinatra was the one millions of hearts beat for. Today, Michael Bublé’s crooning voice is a pop rarity, but in the ‘40s, the big band style wasn’t a genre that you had to look very hard for. Because popular music had until then been targeted primarily at adults, Sinatra and his teen fans offered up a previously untapped market. This is arguably what earned Sinatra his contract as a solo artist with Capital Records. Today, we remember him for Fly Me to the Moon, or My Way, but it was the intangible quality fangirls eat up like chocolate, that made Frank Sinatra become Frank Sinatra. Just take it from The New Yorker:

“Most of his fans are plain, lonely girls from lower-middle class homes. They are dazzled by the life Sinatra leads and wish they could share in it. They insist that they love him, but they do not use the verb in its ordinary sense. As they apply it to him, it is synonymous with ‘worship’ or ‘idealize.’” —E.J. Kahn Jr. (“Here’s to Sinatra and the Ladies who Lust”, 1946)

Even the Beatles quit touring after their third album because the fangirl frenzy around them made their live performances so difficult. Pat O’Day introduced the Beatles at what was then the Seattle Center Coliseum in August of 1964. He recalls catching a glance from George Harrison, “George looked at me and he reached down and pulled the electrical plug out of the bottom of his guitar for a minute. And then he put it back in and kept playing, and he shrugged like ‘What difference does it make? No one can hear us anyway.’”

The Beatles had the type of following that today garners more eye rolls from those with “refined” taste in music. But we can’t just dismiss the validity of something merely because the initial fan base is female and has a mean age of 14. After all, that would mean throwing out your copy ofThe White Album.

Even Johnny Depp, the eccentricity King himself, started out as a teen heartthrob on 21 Jump Street. Now he’s an Oscar nominated, highly respected actor and Hollywood icon of all that is badass. We just choose to forgive him of his previous dealings with tweens. But why is that even something that needs forgiving?

The same goes for Elvis. According to Rolling Stone, “it was Elvis who made rock ‘n’ roll the international language of pop.” (This quote is so commonly used on a range of online bios of Elvis, its proper citation is uncertain.) Yes, I’m sure that’s exactly what all those girls were “tweeting” about back in the day. I’m going to go out on a limb here. At the time, the Elvis phenomenon wasn’t just about his music. The great icons of pop may be remembered for their music now, but it was largely a fangirl thing at the time. Today we don’t take things with a fangirl following seriously as high art.

So, what I’m proposing here is that we separate the phenomenon from its following before forming an opinion about its validity. I’m not saying that everything fangirls like is fit to be legendary, but historically speaking, fangirls have been largely, if not wholly responsible for cementing the status of many, many, cultural icons. Which begs the question: without them, where would all those icons be?

And what makes a fangirl tick? If there is a formula, it is deep in the minds of teenage girls. Oh, we females can be a fickle bunch. We can talk about why we like what we do, but can that then be applied to production and marketing? Eh, maybe not so much. Amy, the owner of the largest fan site dedicated to Robert Pattinson, was asked simply, “Why Robert?” And she responds, “Because he’s gorgeous.” Yep. That’s all.

Looking for more answers, I set to figure out the Fangirl equation. This past summer I went to a Jonas Brothers concert, and about halfway through it I became distracted from worrying about if I’d ever be able to hear again when I noticed something, or rather someone. Who was that dude on the bass? Out came the Blackberry. Google “Jonas Brothers bass player” and BAM. Greg Garbowsky. Hails from New Jersey, is allergic to peanuts, and is two days younger than I am.

Not that I expected to be the first to have noticed the guy, but I was a little surprised to find he has over 60,000 followers on Twitter (that’s more than Al Roker, people). Having learned from Garbowsky’s fanpage that he was going to be in Bass Player magazine, I proceeded to the bookstore to buy it.

If a wee crush had driven me to seek out needless information and to buy a magazine I would have never even glanced at before, this estrogen flowing through my body had more power over me than I was willing to admit. This was as close to being a fangirl as I had ever been. “You play bass?” the check out guy at Books-A-Million asked me, “Um… no. My little brother does.” Well, hedoes.

Imagine it as unbridled devotion floating around the atmosphere just waiting for a subject to fix itself upon. Therein lies the real power of fangirls. No subject is too small to be deemed worthy of obsession. That’s one really fascinating part about the Jonas craze. The brothers each have their own base of manic fans down to their little brother Frankie (the “bonus Jonas”).

In an essay entitled “1,000 True Fans” Kevin Kelly, one of the founders of Wired magazine, defines a true fan as “someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce.” (The Technium.com) Kelly’s theory is that all any artist needs to survive in the “long tail” environment of the web is a core of one thousand true fans who will spend one hundred dollars on the artist’s products each year. That’s about one concert ticket and a couple of CDs, which by my calculations would put a fangirl at least one notch above a “true fan” in the hierarchy of fanhood. And that is precisely why the earth shakes when girls decide that something is likable. Greater than just buying power, true fanhood is about participation, and the web presents a multitude of fangirl opportunities both to consume and produce idol information. Of course all this includes a willingness to follow a band, artist, or celebrity until they are no longer working in the industry – well, maybe even a little after that too.

Hoping to find out more, I asked girls who ran fanpages how long they saw themselves being active fans. And acting a little taken aback, they had to pause to think, but then they all said something to the effect of, “until the artist makes it known that they don’t want to be in the spotlight anymore.” In fact, my favorite quote was, “I guess until (he) gets married and has babies or something.”

Fangirls are one of the primary drivers in popular media and today they are more empowered than ever before. History suggests that appealing to this special type of super fan and their unparalleled loyalty is one of the best ways to achieve superstardom (even if the mania doesn’t last, your retirement is funded). Yes, fangirls can be loud, perhaps obnoxious, and not all their picks end up at exalted heights in the artistic pantheon, but it is unfair to dismiss fangirls merely as a gaggle of girls suffering from puppy love.

They raised the likes of James Dean, Heath Ledger, Michael J. Fox (who interestingly enough, changed his middle initial from “A” to “J”, because he didn’t want teen magazines referring to him as “Michael, A Fox!”), Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, the Beatles, and kept them in the spotlight long enough for the rest of us to fall in love with them too. Thank you, fangirls.

Tokyo Special 2/10 – Sakura by phantastic420

For every day I spent in the greatest city last year I will be writing a post on either a Tokyo based photographer or a series set in the metropolis. An ode to the city.

This is part 2 – Sakura by phantastic420 – Exactly one year ago I had just woken up in Shibuya, ready to take on Tokyo. The smell of Sakura wafted through the city streets and in through my hotel window, it’s a smell that will forever remind me the great city.

phantastic420‘s instagram feed is one of my favourites, abundant with beauty and colour – every day allowing us to escape to the nature of Japan, travelling through the seasons and weather from snow to sunshine. Make sure to follow! 

Tokyo Special 1/10 – Tokyo Nights by Jon Siegel

Exactly one year ago I had just checked into my hotel in Tokyo along with my mum. The 10 days trip was a life changing one and I think about the city I love daily. For every day I was in Tokyo I will bring you a different photo series of the city, each photographer show casing their own view of an element unique to the city.

Seeing as we arrived as nightfall it’s only fair to start with the time in which Tokyo is at it’s best, night time.

This is part 1 – Tokyo Nights by Jon Siegel

I love the tones and colours used in this series, although we know it’s dark the city is still vibrant and energetic in its colours. The salary man having his dinner, the youth dressed to go out and the taxi man working on the roads of this eccentric city, Jon Siegel captures Tokyo from a non-alien view. Check out the full series here which comprises of over 170 photographs.

Bill Finger – Mininature sets & photography

Bill Finger‘s work might seem a little surreal at first, everything looks normal but something isn’t quite right?

That’s because Bill is photographing hand built miniature sets. Using his background in Film he creates these miniature worlds and photographs them. The subtlety is something to be admired, usually photographers who use mini sets want to scream in your face that this isn’t reality, but Bill’s technique goes a lot further in allowing the viewer to ponder on the uncanniness of the images before figuring out that these aren’t full scale.

As I undertake my long project in building 3D printed sets and photographing them Bill’s subtlety is something to bear in mind, although I must be realistic in using 3D printing I will tire trying to make it look “real”.

Jason Chau’s cosplay photography

Last summer I was travelling to as many conventions as I could doing cosplay photography, since then I have been working unpaid so have had no money to travel around the country. I however I will not let this spring/summer’s events slip past me. As I get ready to photograph some cosplayers I thought I would try and find someone who shoots in a similar style to me.

Alot of photographers take the subjects away from the hustle and bustle of the con, put them against a white wall or in the garden of the venue the con is held at, I however like to capture the ongoing convention in the background. Much like those street fashion photographers who stop people on the street and get them to stop where they are and pose.

I found the work of Jason Chau who does the same, I love the fact he has a style, the same sort of framing in every photo and bright vivid colours, the background is still there but using depth of field it is not distracting from the cosplayer. You can see all of Jason’s work here.

Escapism by Yi-Fu Tuan – Preface

Escapism by Yi-Fu Tuan
The Johns Hopkins University Press
Baltimore & London
1998

Black = My thoughts
Pink = Quotes
Blue = An external reference

Preface

Before I start I must make one point, when reading a book that attempts to analyse culture you must take into account the personality of the writer, every day we meet different characters we don’t agree with, the same goes for writers; just because they have been given the permission and support to publish a book does not make them right. In this case within the first 2 pages I have already made assumptions about Yi-Fu Tuan:

– He talks about how he was surprised he enjoyed Disneyland as “well educated people, among whom I count myself, are taught to dismiss the theme park as an unreal, fantasy world supported by hidden – and therefore somewhat sinister – forces.” – This gives me a sense of snobbery, someone who doesn’t let themselves enjoy an activity that is below his intelligence – for me this gives me a bad impression of the book as at the moment I see escapism through media and entertainment as a way of disengaging the brain and being submissive to pure childlike entertainment. – My opinion on this might change however.
As Tuan discusses the differences between humans and animals he talks about how he aspires to be immortal – I think you have to be quite narcissistic to actually want immortality, again just like each writer puts their own opinions throughout their book, I the reader will read it in a different way than you might.

I can always resort to imagination, which is the most readily available means of transporting the self.” — “But imagination can lead us astray – into fantasy, the unreal, the unreal, and the grotesque; and it can tempt us into first picturing, the (too often) acting out evil.” – I’ve never considered imagination as escapism, only ever digital objects – this is an overlook perhaps of my generation. Now it seems obvious the original escapism is to daydream or imagine. It’s interesting to consider the difference between imagination and fantasy and think about their negative aspects not only positive ones.

LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS – “And if the project is not food but a monument, a city, an empire, the amount of prior destruction, the exploitation of labor both animal and human, the sweat, pain, and death, add up to a picture closer to hell than heaven.” – The end point is the method of escaping (i.e. a house used to escape nature) but what has lead to it’s creation could take away from the “sanctuary” image we hold. – The escapism is lessened.

I haven’t even started yet and I’m raring to go, I don’t agree with everything Tuan has written, but that makes this all the more exciting. Stay tuned for chapter updates with quotes, thoughts and references.