Wednesday, 31 May 2017
An Instant in the Wind (1977) by Andre Brink is a novel with quite a simple set-up. The year is 1760 and a woman finds herself stranded and alone in the wilderness of the South African interior after a scientific expedition goes horribly wrong. She is found by an ex-slave who has been surviving hand to mouth for some time. They are forced to team-up for a long trek back to civilisation and their ultimate fate. Therein lies the twist of the novel which should be of interest to anyone who worries about ‘giving the end away’. The facts surrounding the fate of the two central characters are coolly detailed in the first three pages! Adam is executed (at a total cost of nine rixdollars) and Elizabeth marries someone else!!!
Whoa! That’s like destroyed all the suspense and ruined the novel hasn’t it? Duh, no! The tension of what is going to happen at the end is incredible! I know. I’ve read it. On paper it all looks like a bit of a chore and not my kind of thing, except that you’d have to be dead not to get a kick out this. This is the kind of novel where the sheer skill in the choice of words, the construction of sentences, and paragraphs, the ordering of information given is crucial and masterful. At first it’s rather awkward getting used to guessing who is speaking or even thinking as one character seems to drift into another. The present and past also interweave without so much as a clue, so you have to be on your toes to keep up. I made a few assumptions myself and had to skip back a page or two just to re-orientate the old brain.
If you read any reviews that describe some of the prose as purple, well, I wouldn’t disagree, but I wasn’t thrown by that. The sexual nature of the relationship comes as a huge turning point and almost gives you a chance to relax before the final part and the long trek ‘home’ begins. I found no part of this book boring and was moved to tears more than once – the emotional power coming because you know the bare facts of the conclusion already.
There are words here to turn your blood to ice with horror and your face to fire with shame. ‘You’re still young, Adam, and you’ve got a lot to learn. So we’ll make it only one pipe.’
This is the second Brink novel I’ve read and A Chain of Voices (1982) shared a couple of stylistic and structural commonalities. The themes of mastery and slavery, the ultimate dehumanisation, bondage and reward of both, but also the ‘giving away’ of the end by the detailing or cataloguing of certain ‘facts’ at the very beginning. Knowing the bare facts of the outcome in no way diminishes the emotional power of the events. It’s hardly the what, though there is a lot of what in A Chain of Voices, but the why that matters. In An Instant in the Wind the why is everything.
Tuesday, 30 May 2017
Monday, 29 May 2017
Thankfully there's a new creative series on TV to help this blog along!
Judges Olivero Toscani, Caroline Hunter and Darcy Padilla (no, me neither) get to sort out the ring flashes from the lens caps in this second series of Sky Arts Master of Photography. Twelve amateur and professional snappers get to take on various assignments and, guess what, we lose one each week until we have a winner. That's how these crazy shows work. we just have to live with it!
This week mentor David Alan Harvey (no, me neither) got to help the contestants chose their final picture to present to the judges from all of the hundreds they took while on location. This week the task was to come back from Sicily with a great 'travel' shot.
We'll cut straight to the chase in this first week and show you the pictures:
Considering what was in front of Sohail Karmani I would have expected something more compelling than this. Seems a bit random to me in the composition, but the colours are good.
Using all of her available charm Molly Keane made this winner.
I hate framing this tight in camera so a mark against Souvid Datta for that. However it is a great photo and probably the best of the bunch this week.
I don't know what Comewell Puplampu was thinking here. No real strong idea at all. I think he was missing a ladder frankly because what else can you do when you can only see the labyrinth from the air.
Martina Biccheri had her chance to take more shots of this unconvincing subject, but crucially was left with only this one to choose from. Too late now to make any other decisions.
Olympe Tits (don't go there) used her considerable imagination to make a great shot, though perhaps not altogether the travel shot they were after. I was impressed with her use of random strangers!
Max Brucker gave us a great portrait shot. Wrong task Max!
Viktoria Sorochinski is going to be the 'awkward one'. There is always one. I get the concept but I'm not sure about the final picture.
Wojciech Grzedzinski was the lucky one this week. A dreadful photograph of not very much. How he survived the cut this week is a mystery. Maybe there will be better things to come. I hope so.
Gillian Allard gave us this impressive landscape. In any other situation a great shot but perhaps not capturing the full potential of sunny Sicily!
Niko Giovanni Coniglio gave us a wonky old man in an otherwise lovely street scene.
And finally Sonja Thoms gave us this. No, I can't see anything worth photographing either.
So a mixed bag as you might expect. Plenty of time for the middling ones to catch up with the front runners. Alas, no time for Martina as she was cropped from the process, somewhat unfairly I thought, but she did commit a cardinal sin. It doesn't cost anything to take more photos. She was miffed, but I'm sure it won't hurt her career. Good luck Martina!
Sunday, 28 May 2017
Saturday, 27 May 2017
Lifeforce (1985) is the best science fiction movie ever made. Let me say that again. Lifeforce is NOT the best science fiction movie ever made. Which statement is true? Both of them in a way. Yes, the final result is a complete and utter mess, but if you’re going to go wrong then this is the way to go. See for yourself and you’ll realise I don’t really have to point out what is wrong about this film. You’ll soon figure it out for yourself. What I want to concentrate on here is how good a film it is. For all it’s crappy dialogue, wooden acting, lightshow un-special effects, etc, it does something that many many other bad films fail to do. It entertains.
Something interesting is always going on, not in the overall story or in the subtext or subplot, but right there in front of your face on the screen. This is where you get your money’s worth and why I can always find time to watch this film again and again. Vampires, zombies, spaceships, comets, asylums, expendable soldiers, mad doctors, exploding bodies, whoa – naked chick, actors who should know better, London on fire. The dialogue is woeful, but the delivery is nothing short of genius. Vincent Price made it his stock in trade to deliver the most appalling lines of dialogue with the maximum amount of acting! His fine tradition is continued here by Frank Finlay, Patrick Stewart and Peter Firth, perfectly good actors delivering utter nonsense for all they are worth – Patrick Stewart being particularly hysterical. That’s not to mention a career defining performance by cut-price star Steve Railsback as an American astronaut overcome ‘by most feminine presence’ he has ever come across. That man has not lived!
Of course you could make it your argument that the creators were trying to make the best film they could and in making the worst they have somehow failed. Jason X was a terrific movie in the same way, but that was very knowing and all but a comedy. This is aiming for a combination of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Quatermass and the Pit and you can’t get much higher than those twin ambitions. In the end (not to mention the beginning and the middle) all the film really lacks is someone with enough strength to blend the elements. With Dan O’Bannon on the writing I guess I’ll have to blame Tobe Hooper who doesn’t really have the chops alone to make a big movie. He made have had little help from cheap-skate money bags Golan-Globus, but if you are going to have a film fall apart this is certainly an object lesson in how to do it. When I was a kid bad movies were bad because “nothing ever happened until the end” and then you realised it wasn’t worth waiting for. With lower attention spans and greater desperation on the part of movie makers at least now we get films in which stuff actually happens … every twenty minutes or else.
I say now, I mean the modern era of course. It’s odd but I just thought – shouldn’t movies have distinct ‘ages’ like comics? I’m a fan of the Bronze Age, so I like that particular classification, but what would be the ‘ages’ for film? The silent era seems to be the only concrete distinction at he moment. I may be wrong. Let me know if there is any classification other than genre or decade.
I could talk about this movie forever so expect a similar review next year by which time time I’ll have probably seen it several more times.
Friday, 26 May 2017
Thursday, 25 May 2017
Wednesday, 24 May 2017
I shuffled down to the local gallery today to see if my work had been accepted into their annual open exhibition only to find I'd been shuffled to the back of the pack again. Well, one has to be realistic. I don't exactly make pretty pictures and it doesn't sit easily alongside the more commercial work. It has to be said that there were some pretty expensive frames on display and a gallery has to make money after all.
It does tend to focus your mind on what you might do to make your work more 'acceptable'. I shall turn that around in my head for a few days and then in all likelihood forget all about it.
The picture is of my own 'front room' exhibition. My room, my rules!
Tuesday, 23 May 2017
Monday, 22 May 2017
Sunday, 21 May 2017
Well, summer is here (-ish) and there's nothing on the telly and even the football draws to a close today. That means it's time to sort through the DVDs again and opine on some of the offerings on my shelf. I'm of a generation that watched snooker on the TV in black and white so I care nothing for 4K or Blu-ray. When most movies are garbage who cares at what resolution you can watch the garbage rot? I realise it's different if you're young or well-off, but I'm neither of those.
Anyhow there are a few movies that have been resting on my shelf for some considerable time and Robot and Frank (2012) was one of them. It is the type of film of which people say 'they don't make 'em like that anymore' except they just did. The acting and the script and the story and the heart is all there. There are no flashy special effects to distract and, indeed, that is one of the main features. In any other situation the robot would be laughable, unbelievable, silly. Such is the strength of the script and the ensemble performances however you are forced to warm to the robot in a matter of minutes. If the film has any fault it's in the final third where several expected resolutions don't really resolve themselves to my personal satisfaction and there's a little bit of an unnecessary chase to try and liven things up, for the trailer perhaps. No film is perfect. This gets as close as most people could wish for.
Don't expect any reviews of current releases. I don't go to the movies. I can't afford it but also I dislike hype and I really like going in cold, with no knowledge or expectations.
Saturday, 20 May 2017
Here's a painting of mine. That's right I'm trawling through the archives again! My toes are curling at the very thought of showing you this but the blog has quite the appetite. Needless to say that this magnificent piece of art now resides in a landfill somewhere. What was I thinking? Well, let's not go there. I have more evidence of my ineptitude, and if you're lucky I'll share it with you soon, unless I get cold feet. More than likely.
Oh look! I just found an image of the sister piece! Also dead in a ditch somewhere.
The manipulations below via photoshop. Not much of an improvement I know.
Friday, 19 May 2017
Continuing my short theme of unused logos here's another one. I've been working in the back, trying to update the website, submitting work to various exhibitions and building frames to make new work. Today I've finished making the frames and, collecting together all the unfinished ones I've had lying around, I reckon that makes forty-nine blanks that need turning into forty-nine masterpieces! Phew! I like to aim high (geddit?) don't I readers?
Thursday, 18 May 2017
Wednesday, 17 May 2017
Here's another long abandoned logo, but what to do with it? Does anyone have a website beginning with Z? I did have one, but I lost it in the great crash of ... well, every year is a great crash for me. Who knows. It might bubble up again somewhere at some point.
Tuesday, 16 May 2017
I have hard drives full of stuff I've made and I'll never get around to using so I might as well share it with you dear reader. Here's a few free textures and photographs for you to use in your own designs. Click on the images to view them at full size. Take them, use them, redistribute them, do what the heck you like with them ... only don't blame me. Hope they finds a use out there somewhere or that they inspire you to move a project along a ways.
I do commercial work under the name Graphic Accelerator and no that isn't my logo above. But it could have been. It's a bit too much, but I just saw it again today and thought it looked interesting at least.
Monday, 15 May 2017
More artwork from the master, Dudley D Watkins. I think I must have come across one tatty old issue of The Topper and scanned most of what seemed interesting at the time. As I've said before it was a large format comic so I must have scanned these a half page at a time and then stiched them together in Photoshop. When I had money to spare I'd pick these up when they appeared but only if they were cheap. I never cared about the quality ... as that so obviously exists elsewhere if you catch my drift.
Sunday, 14 May 2017
Here's Beryl again from the 1958 annual.
Here's a bonus, also from the same year 1955. I'm not sure at the moment, but is the artist Bill Holroyd?