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”.

Decotora by Tatsuki Masaru

In the summer of 1988 Tatsuki Masaru spent time with Japanese truckers who take part in the unique culture of decorating their trucks – DECOTORA. Masaru explores how they used decorating to turn a job that was perhaps an ends to a means into a hobby and passion they loved. Like all subcultures the dedication and devotion these truckers have is mind blowing and fascinating.

The Apocalypse

In the last hour or so I have had a realisation. Struggling to find what I am interested in and a focus area for this blog after leaving University has had me questioning myself for weeks now. I like anime, I like film, I like books but I am not your typical fan of any of these areas, I don’t dedicate my life to them or obsesses over them 24/7.

Upon return from seeing the Pacific Rim at the cinema I thought about the medias across all boards which I obsess over (this thought ignited by a Pacific Rim obsession coming on). They all have one common thread. Apocalypse.

Let’s begin with my first serious obsession, Lost. Week after week as a 13 year old girl I would watch as Jack, Kate and the gang went about their business. Now some people might argue Lost doesn’t revolve around apocalyptic themes, but in my eyes it does. For the characters involved their worlds have been destroyed, they have to rebuild and adapt to survive.

From this point on I cannot recall a time line of my obsessions. Unlike the majority of fans, I am not a “full timer” if you like. For example my favorite anime at the moment Shingeki No Kyojin is aired online every week, however I have only seen 5 of the 14 episodes. When I become obsessed it’s accompanied by a serious level of intensity. Spending a day or two immersing myself in the world I have chosen to experience. I recall my first year of University after purchasing the Buffy Boxset to pass time and watching every episode within 2 weeks, I genuinely jumped when I first embarked on a human on the streets of Coventry, thinking he was a nasty vamp. Before I jumped into slayer mode I quickly recollaborated and remembered to my sadness, “It isn’t real”.

fan art by Bacafreak

This may sound strange to some but this immersion is the satisfaction fandom gives me. I don’t particularly care which anime is top of the charts or knowing the latest releases. What I look for is the connection that makes me not want to leave the house until I know how it ends.

I seem to be digressing a tad, my point is that today I realised that the majority of media that consumes my life is based on some sort of apocalypse.

Below are my favourite anime and films at the moment (both lists are in constant flux), unaware until today of the weird obsession I seem to have.

Anime:
– Deadman Wonderland

“A massive earthquake ravaged Japan’s mainland and destroyed most of Tokyo, sinking three-quarters of it into the ocean. Ten years later, the story starts with Igarashi Ganta, a seemingly ordinary, unassuming middle school student attending Nagano Prefecture’s middle school. An escapee, a survivor of the great earthquake, Ganta has no memories of the tragedy and has lived a simple, normal life. This all changes one day when a strange man covered in blood and crimson armour appears, floating, out of his classroom windows, and massacres Ganta’s entire class and, instead of killing him, embeds a red crystal shard in his chest. Within days of the massacre, Ganta is convicted of the crime, following a suspiciously quick trial, is sentenced to life imprisonment in Deadman Wonderland, a massive theme-park-like prison.”
– Synopsis by T.H.E.M anime review

– Cassherns Sins


The world is in ruin. Everywhere, robots are rusting and breaking down, unable to repair themselves. Humans come few and far between with extinction inevitable. Chaos is ensuing, despair consumes the hearts of most, and all of this can be blamed on the actions of one robot by the name of Casshern. Chased by hordes of the vengeful, the now amnesia stricken Casshen walks the Earth slowly remembering his greatest sin; killing Luna, the Sun that was name Moon. With no place to hide, he must reconcile with his past. However, those around him are not so soon to forgive.
-Synopsis by The Nihon Review

– Puella Magi Madoka Magica


She has a loving family and best friends, laughs and cries from time to time… Madoka Kaname, an eighth grader of Mitakihara middle school, is one of those who lives such a life. One day, she had a very magical encounter. She doesn’t know if it happened by chance or by fate yet. This is a fateful encounter that can change her destiny—this is a beginning of the new story of the magical witch girls.
– Synopsis by Aniplex of America

– Shingeki No Kyojin


Several hundred years ago, humans were nearly exterminated by giants. Giants are typically several stories tall, seem to have no intelligence, devour human beings and, worst of all, seem to do it for the pleasure rather than as a food source. A small percentage of humanity survived by walling themselves in a city protected by extremely high walls, even taller than the biggest of giants.

Flash forward to the present and the city has not seen a giant in over 100 years. Teenage boy Eren and his foster sister Mikasa witness something horrific as the city walls are destroyed by a super giant that appears out of thin air. As the smaller giants flood the city, the two kids watch in horror as their mother is eaten alive. Eren vows that he will murder every single giant and take revenge for all of mankind.
– Synopsis by Kiss Anime

Films:
– Fifth Element

A cab driver in the 23rd century finds himself battling an evil force during an apocalyptic war as he tries to secure a mysterious “fifth element.”
-Synopsis by Star Pulse

– Dredd

A feared urban cop takes on a vicious city drug dealer in a futuristic metropolis as director Pete Travis (Vantage Point) and screenwriter Alex Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine) team to bring iconic 2000A.D. lawman Judge Dredd to the big screen. In the future, much of North America has been poisoned by radiation. The sprawling urban jungle Mega City One stretches from Boston to Washington D.C., and in order to keep the growing criminal element in check, police enforcers called “Judges” have been given the power of judge, jury, and executioner. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is the most feared of them all, delivering death sentences with impunity as he fights to rid the streets of “Slo-Mo” — a powerful new drug that alters its user’s perception of time. In the process of training psychic rookie Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), Dredd receives a report of an incident in a sprawling criminal stronghold ruled by fearsome drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), and ventures in to investigate. Upon learning that one of her top men has been captured by Dredd shortly thereafter, an enraged Ma-Ma seizes control of her massive 200-story complex, launching an all-out war against the Judges as Dredd and Cassandra find themselves trapped in the belly of the beast.
-Synopsis by MSN

– Pacific Rim

When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are locked in a neural bridge. But even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju. On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed up former pilot (Charlie Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a legendary but seemingly obsolete Jaeger from the past. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.
Official Synopsis

Part of me is considering transforming this blog into a one stop apocolyptic source, reading books, manga and watching all sorts of crazy films and anime, I mean there have got to be others out their like me right?

Praktica at Twilight

I have been shooting with my Ilford sportsman recently with the intention to use it in Tokyo to shoot my final pieces, however I thought it would be best to take a back up camera just in case one gets stolen lost or breaks. So I opted for my second favoured film camera, My Praktica, it used to belong to my mum but she gave it to me when I gained an interest in photography. I used it a few times in first year but have rarely used it since.

However to my surprise I found it a lot better to work with, and more realiable that the ilford. Using my iPhone light meter app, I learned from the last 3 shoots I have done and took the reading so the vibrant lights were at level 5. The images and colours are a lot better than the ilford ones, the camera and myself just work better, it is less clunky and has more option for adapting. I also love the light glare it creates, something which the ilford does not.

I will now be using the Praktica as my primary camera and the ilford as my back up. I am also very impressed with the accuracy of the light meter app on my phone but will take a normal light meter to Tokyo as backup.

Twilight with Ilford Sportsman round 2

Round 2 with the 1960’s Ilford Sportsman, I think using a tripod made so much difference, I had to consider the positioning more, at first I was weary of the cameras shutter being so stiff that the images would still be shaky but they turned out nice and still. I love the colours this camera gives off, light doesn’t bleed to much into another surface, it remains quite contrasted which will work really well with the city lights in Tokyo. The images are a little under exposed. if I want to maintain this contrast between darkness and coloured lights I will need to make sure my subject in the photographs is lit well, maybe standing near a window or using a torch on my phone to make them stand out. The images have a blue quality to them, this is probably the cameras white balance default, as it is unchangeable but I think it works really well especially against the contrasting colours like yellow, orange and red, I need to be selective in the areas I choose to shoot and make sure the lighting is orange toned rather than blue. The images are better than last time, but still need to get a better control over the light, and pre-visualise the images before I take it.

The left side of this images is really nice, but I need to balance it out with the right, a simple street flood light would balance the image well and make it less underexposed.

 

Gosford @ Twilight

With my research well on its way I decided it’s time to also put myself out there and start producing images as part of my development. I have discussed before how I will be using a 35mm film camera for this project because its vernacular transfers so well to the photographers I have been researching and their use of reality and fantasy. I have been collecting film cameras for a while, just picking them up in charity shops, more for the history of the camera than actually using it. This one is special to me, my parents found it in a charity shop and bought it home for me, when I was looking at the history of the Ilford Sportsman I discovered that this particular model was produced in 1963 the same year as my mum was born. I instantly took a liking to it and have played around with it before, Ideally this will be the camera I use for my final project mainly because I enjoy the process of making images on it and I have a this family connection.

I decided the best thing to do would be practicing with it first, my film camera skills are limited and I need to get myself out of the mind frame of a digital user, I need to be considering each image, and take enough care and have enough confidence in myself to know the images will come out. I decided to shoot at twilight so that I could begin to explore the hyper-reality i’ve been exploring in my research. I also know my final piece is going to be city based and lit only by the twilight sun and the neon lights of advertisements and signs. So I headed for the most fluorescent street in coventry at 6.03pm in the snow and began to shoot.

I am not particularly happy with any of them. The 1st, 2nd and 4th images are getting there in regards to the colours, light and atmosphere it just needs fine tuning and I need to be able to produce better versions of these images on demand so when in Japan I know I will not wast my opportunity out there.

Mistake 1. Not taking a tripod to shoot during twilight.
Mistake 2. Using really cheap film
Mistake 3. Not working to my strengths, I should have taken the image on a digital camera first then taken the readings from that rather than working with a light meter.
Mistake 4. Non-consistant, Some images look as though they were shot at night, others in the day and some during sunset. I need to maintain the right exposure when making my images. They will be a series after all and need to have some similarity.

All these mistakes I hope to work on over the weekend, I will go and shoot 2 more rolls making sure I use a tripod and a digital camera as reference. However I cannot do too much about the film because it’s all I can afford if I am making this many minstakes. I will also start making portraits, and explore taking images inside during twilight too.

Izima Kaoru

Izima Kaoru is a Japanese photographer based in Tokyo, his ‘Landscape with a corpse’ series which spread over 13 years explores themes of death and beauty via depicting the fantasies and fears actresses and models have about death and then bringing that situation to a photograph. What makes the images so powerful is the juxtaposition between these beautiful women, their perfect appearances and the unusual surroundings.

©izima kaoru

Kaoru discusses how fear of death is one thing we all have in common and is a fear that he has too. His work is a visual exploration into this fear. What’s interesting is that in exploring death and subsequently religion Kaoru was unsatisfied with what the world had to offer, so turned to nature and produced the series ‘one sun’.

After fifteen years of exploring the macabre in his ongoing series Landscapes with a Corpse, Izima Kaoru looked to spirituality to ease his fear of death. Dissatisfied with what organized religion had to offer, he found his comfort in the natural world. The sun and its constancy in our existence proved to be his solace and inspiration.
http://www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=40526#.UUBTv2VU32E[/url]
Copyright © artdaily.org

©Izima Kaoru

‘One sun’ is a beautiful series, however ‘Landscape with a Corpse’ is more relevant to my project. By taking elements of reality and fantasies Kaoru creates a character and places them in a relatable scene, then positions the character so they resemble a corpse. This is something I need to start thinking about, I am always talking about how I will show consumerism as a poison so how will I do this? Without being cliche?

Here are some more images from Kaoru’s ‘Landscape with a corpse’ series.

©Izima Kaoru

 

©Izima Kaoru
©Izima Kaoru
©Izima Kaoru

 

 

Photofilms

Photofilms are becoming widely used to tell a story, the advantage of photo film is the image and visual are never physically linked so you aren’t in the mind set of having to have linked images and music, unlike video.

Here are very different examples of Photofilms from around the internet, and a brief analysis of each ones strengths and weaknesses in terms of narrative and storytelling.


This visually stunning romantic journey through Japan uses images so well, mini stop motion films all put together, it doesn’t need a voice over because the story being told is pretty straight forward, depicting facts rather than emotions.


This second video by  is a more humourous approach, using music and soundscape to tell the story of a couples day, a distracted woman and her boyfriend who is desperately trying to reach her. I think this video overused the “Ken and Burns” effect, zooming all over the place, the photos from this video actually look really beautiful  but we hardly ever see one in it’s entirety, we see bits. Even with stills there seems a need for them to be moving, it might be a personal choice but I prefer this to happen more subtly.


This last video by  is probably the most relevant to my project, a look into the life of a person who belongs to a minority. The use of text to narrative rather a voice over is important, I’ve noticed it a lot in photovideos, if an external voice it used it seems to snap the audience out of their immersion within the story.

1 in 13 million – The only native Japanese Imam in Tokyo from Uchujin on Vimeo.

duckrabbit

In the exploration of photofilms I couldn’t not look at duckrabbit, a prestigious company who produce short photofilms that don’t use distracting angles and moving image to evoke an image, they rely on the power of the story and the combination of photo’s and audio.

The video above in particular moved me, naturally such an emotional story would hold anyone’s attention but the way duckrabbit have composed the film is stunning and reflects upon the stories emotion. We are never offered the traditional interview scenario, where we watch a subject speak. At times we hear the mother talking but we see her crying, as though she is reflecting in two ways on her experience, both verbally and physically. The way this story is told within such a short amount of time is outstanding, I could have watched an hour long channel 4 documentary and not have been that engaged with the story. I also love the fact there is no narrative voice as such, just text, it made me feel as though I was the one talking to her, the text was entering my mind subliminally and offering me facts, whereas the spoken dialogue was offering me emotion and feeling.

This second video uses similar techniques to tell the story of a Muslim community living in Sweden who feel as though they have become second class and prejudged. The use of images of everyday activities, like school, dancing and playing reinforce the idea that they are normal citizens, there is nothing strange about them.

duckrabbit’s use of still and sound take their work so much further than a slideshow and inform more of a film approach, at times you forget you aren’t watching a moving image.

www.duckrabbit.info

Spencer Murphey for Phonar – the 4th look

*Included in Symposium too because it may become relevant*

This is the lecture we had today with Spencer Murphey, visual culture & film lecturer at Coventry University, for Phonar.

And here are my notes…

The idea of the “4th gaze” is a really important thing to consider, the ability to use a media to make the spectator reflect upon themselves through your work is a skill which is key for any artist. The constant questioning of yourself and of others, and what we expect as normal.

After the lecture we also had a question and answer session with Spencer and a question came up about when does your work become self-indulgent and have no relationship to anyone else, its meaningless?

Spencer replied with Lazwel’s theory, when creating work think about…

Who?
Say’s What?
To Whom?
in what platform?
with what effect?

Obviously this isn’t a check list you should comply to in every project, but when you start to question your work it’s good to step back and use these methods to get back on track. There is no doubt I have been worried about this project, so I want to try and describe my project through these terms.

Who?
Myself
Says What?
The exploration of otaku culture through the insight into their “Sanctuaries”.
To Whom?
To the online geek culture, as well as a broader audience who might not understand this obsession.
In what platform?
Online, to access my target audience and provoke some sense of debate/opinion.
With what effect?
To break away from prejudice and the patronising work of most who look at sub cultures.

It seems I need more of a platform, how am I going to approach this? a blog, a series of stills, audio, video? I need to contextualise my idea more and look at some examples to see which would best fit my idea.

‘Train Man’ 2005

Train Man is a film which is supposedly based on a True Story of an Iconic Otaku.The title in Japanese is “Densha Otoku” (Otoku meaning warrior or strong man of the past, playing on the work otaku).

I have always wondered wether it’s even possible to be a true otaku in Britain, people can be obsessed with anime and manga, but this film has shown me that Otaku have limited social skills and thats mainly due to the mass population in Tokyo and the pressures of society to be better than everyone else. But you never know some people might be similar in the UK, it’s my mission to find them.

Possibly my favourite part of the film is when the lead character stands on one platform, alone. On the other platform separated by train tracks stand his online community, the people who have been using forums to communicate with him. A visualisation for his interaction with these people, each platform being the seats they sit in and the dividing train track being the computer screen, separating them yet keeping them together.

2 year blogiversarie – 9 days to go – Clumsiness isn’t always bad

2nd December 2010

“Clumsiness isn’t always bad”

I tend to be very clumsy in life, most of the time its a hindrance. But today in the dark room i discovered that my shakey hands and grace of an elephant can create interesting results….

clumsy me

This piece would work well without the ‘scars’, but them being there creates a more interesting interpretation, the piece is a modern interpretation of Tinkerbell, the thumb print helps to anchor this because it scales her, although most people know photographs are just a 2D representation, and are not to scale. The light splurges on the edge of the page mimic bursts of light, emphasising her magical element.

Brian Finke, square framing & medium format

For a while I have wanted to get back into shooting medium format film. I love the idea that I could produce stunning cosplay pieces in the future in medium format, the extra detail and rang it gives you is phenomenal and although I am a digital lover as my work starts to mature I feel the right move for me is into medium format film.

For the Photography for your ears Phonar task I looked at the Work of Brian Finke, a photographer who only shoots in medium format.

Briane Finke

 

Square framing has become a tabboo within “professional” photographers over the last few years, Instagram being the main reason. Most people now relate square framing with repetitive generic images and cliche filters. So I think now is a better time than any to use medium format and break away from the modern conventions associated with square framing.

Brian Finkes use of medium format compliments the conventions of square framing. Finke’s use of subject reflect on pop culture in America reinforces the reputation of a square that CD covers and Andy Warhol helped established. My cosplay work is about pop culture in Japan and medium format is something I want to use in the future with this, not only because of it’s detail as i mentioned before but also because of the square framing it inherits.

I also prefer the grain and depth of film and the chromogenic print, especially when viewed in a large scale, gallery environment.

 

 

 

#PHOTOGRAPHY Issue 3

Issue 3 is Due for release in December 2012, for the mean time take a look at the cover & don’t forget to submit your work by 20th october.

Image by Beethy – http://beethy.deviantart.com/

www.hashtagphotographymagazine.com

Here’s a list of features and comps you can apply too…

Features:

“Photography Influenced by Art”

Art has influenced photography since its birth,
and although some people regard them as two
completely different mediums, we don’t. That’s why we
want to see your work that is influenced by art, or that
uses the techniques of a specific art movement.

“Toy Camera”

It is our belief that it doesn’t matter how much money
you have or how much your equipment cost you,
a talented photographer can produce interesting and
thought provoking images with even the cheapest of
cameras. So this is our challenge to you, using your toy
camera produce an image/aseries of images which prove
money can’t buy talent.

For anyone who isn’t sure toy cameras are simple
inexpensive film cameras, such as Holga or Lomo.

Competition:

“Story”

We love a good narrative at #PHOTOGRAPHY, for the
issue 3 competition we want you to take a line from your
favourite book and interpret it in an image/short series of
images. Submit your finished image to us along with the
quote it was based on and we’ll choose a winner 20th
October 🙂

“One Hour Photo”

I had heard about the film One Hour Photo before but never got round to watching it, but when I stumbled across it online I realised this film could help with my project.

It had never occured to me before watching this film thats escaping into photographs could be a bad thing. The word escaping connotes a freedom or a release. But what would happen if you started to believe the world you were escaping into was actually real. In this film Robin Williams escapes his lonely life through family snap shots he processes at work. There is one family in particular that he is interested in, his idea of perfection.

The character found himself constantly reminded of the family he never had every day, he spoke about how family snap shots are selected and edited to make the family seem like they have a perfect life.

“Nobody ever takes a photo of something they want to forget” Is a line that stood out to me, firstly because it is true and secondly it made me think about people who photograph something that doesn’t exist, like in Art photography rather than documentary; is this a photographers way of trying to make reality better? A photograph was considered 100% true during the time of it’s birth, and even though we know this isn’t correct now, are we so rooted to the family snapshot that these false images we create become as sentimental to us as reality?

Another thing Si (robin Williams character) talks about is the origin of the word snapshot. And how it was originally a hunting term for a shot that was taken without deliberate aim. This is something that has always fascinated me about photography, how violent the terms are. Although it might not be relevant to the topic I am looking at it is something that has always fascinated me.

One Hour Photo really has changed the way I will approach my research, I will now be looking for negative effects of escaping reality as well as positive.

It seems everyone wants to escape

Now that I have chosen a subject area, it is popping up everywhere.

In the latest Issue of Neo magazine (101), Director, Shinya Tsukamoto talks about how people acuse him of being sick and twisted because of his gore filled films, but he explains the stories don’t relate to his life, and he thinks that movies are a way we escape reality. It seems this subject area is a lot bigger than I thought, I will definitely have to narrow it down, but not yet, I will continue finding examples over the summer and see where it leads me.