Monday, September 25, 2017
|Helianthus annuus |
In spite of the Wikipedia definition for inertia below I would define my own as simply a resistance to change while surrounded by it. My Dell cathode-ray tube monitor is but one example.
Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to any
change in its state of motion. This includes changes to the object's speed,
direction, or state of rest.
Inertia is also defined as the tendency of objects to
keep moving in a straight line at a constant velocity. The principle of inertia
is one of the fundamental principles in classical physics that are still used
to describe the motion of objects and how they are affected by the applied
forces on them.
Inertia comes from the Latin word, iners, meaning idle,
sluggish. Inertia is one of the primary manifestations of mass, which is a
quantitative property of physical systems. Isaac Newton defined inertia as his
first law in his Philosophiæ Naturalis
Principia Mathematica, which states:
The vis insita, or innate force of matter,
is a power of resisting by which every body, as much as in it lies, endeavours
to preserve its present state, whether it be of rest or of moving uniformly
forward in a straight line.
In common usage, the term "inertia" may refer
to an object's "amount of resistance to change in velocity" (which is
quantified by its mass), or sometimes to its momentum, depending on the
context. The term "inertia" is more properly understood as shorthand
for "the principle of inertia" as described by Newton in his First
Law of Motion: an object not subject to any net external force moves at a
constant velocity. Thus, an object will continue moving at its current velocity
until some force causes its speed or direction to change.
On the surface of the Earth, inertia is often masked by
the effects of friction and air resistance, both of which tend to decrease the
speed of moving objects (commonly to the point of rest), and gravity. This
misled the philosopher Aristotle to believe that objects would move only as
long as force was applied to them:
stops when the force which is pushing the travelling object has no longer power
to push it along...
Inertia as a word does not convey a favourable response
in my mind. If you are suddenly wanting to stop your car going downhill and
your brakes fails, inertia is against you.
Getting going in an early winter morning without coffee
or tea, again has inertia not on your side.
These initial days of fall have me feeling desganado. This excellent word in
Spanish means that I am overcome by a feeling of not wanting to do anything and
particularly of not feeling hungry to eat anything. Add to that another Spanish
word, desabrido, which sort of means
tasteless and is particularly my present malady of not finding food having much
taste (a product, perhaps of impending very old age?) and you might be able to understand
my present statis (from Greek στάσις
"a standing still") to do nothing.
Even my daily blog has added a stress that I don’t want.
I don’t want to write this blog. But there are too many days of unwritten blogs
and when they add up they can become even more of a strain. So I nudge myself
into movement even though I know that for every reaction there is an opposite one
in the other direction (even though Newton never explained, to my satisfaction,
why that falling apple did not then spring up from the ground and connect itself
to its tree).
I have a friend who has an easy answer to year-round
inertia. I can call John Lekich and tell him that right now I cannot make
myself do anything. His reply:
“Alex it’s because
its fall and stuff is winding down.”
In winter I might call him for a reason for my
inactivity. His reply:
“Alex it’s winter.
It’s cold and rainy. It is time to stay inside and to warm yourself by a fire.”
In spring I might phone him that I am not wanting to indulge
in spring cleaning. His opinion:
“Alex spring is an
exciting time and you have to first think of what your plans are for the
summer. It is a time for reflection.”
In the summer Lekich would likely say: “Alex it’s much too hot to venture outside.
Wait for a brisk fall to perform all those planned activities.”
Beyond the Grave - A Posthumous Gift
Friday, September 22, 2017
|Don Tirso de Irureta Goyena in Manila circa 1911|
My daily-delivered NY Times has an interesting little
essay today called Inside the Times on page 2. These essays give an extraordinary
look at how the Time’s newsroom works and how editorial decisions are made.
Today's featured a little story by Stephen Hiltner called An Obituary Written
From Beyond the Grave. It is about how sometimes obituaries are written before
their subjects are dead and the strange occurrence of the obituary writer dying
before the person featured.
The essay can be found here
|Antonio, Tirso and Filomena - 1916|
It gave me thought of my mother’s often told story of a
dollhouse given to her by her father for her birthday. Below is the poem my mother,
Filomena de Irureta Goyena wrote on the magical event.
About those posthumous obituaries Daniel Slotnik, a senior news assistant on the obituries desk told Hiltner, "There isn't anything specifically different with the process, except that obviously there's no writer to send a final draft to."
Pathos With Kokoro at the Roundhouse
Thursday, September 21, 2017
|Krzysztof Kieslowski & Billy Marchenski (it could be Jay?)|
plural: pathea; Greek: πάθος, for
"suffering" or "experience"; adjectival form: 'pathetic'
from παθητικός) represents an appeal to
the emotions of the audience, and elicits feelings that already reside in
them. Pathos is a communication technique used most often in rhetoric (where
it is considered one of the three modes of persuasion, alongside ethos and
logos), and in literature, film and other narrative art.
Rarely do I see seriously sad stuff in modern dance or
ballet. In fact in most of modern dance and ballet, dancers are told to smile.
For me that one ballet full of pathos is Romeo and Juliet with the music of
Prokofiev. I have been lucky to see this danced twice by Evelyn Hart.
There is a moment full of emotion and sadness when Hart
as Juliet approaches the vial of liquid that is supposed to put her in a
catatonic state of sleep. She dances to it gingerly then en pointe she patters
back with uncertainty. This is wonderful. Wonderful as sometime we need pathos
in order to switch to the happy. Melancholy is a small dosis can be a pleasant experience.
Butoh as practiced by Vancouver’s Kokoro Dance Company
never (almost never) a happy time. Butoh’s founder Hijikata Tatsumi started
this performance dance form in opposition mostly to Western dance. To me all
the white makeup and sad facial expressions represent to me some sort of
reaction to the Japanese experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Or I would compare Butoh to punk music, a reaction to
happy and predictable pop with long guitar solos.
Butoh (舞踏 Butō) is a form of
Japanese dance theatre that encompasses a diverse range of activities,
techniques and motivations for dance, performance, or movement. Following World
War II, butoh arose in 1959 through collaborations between its two key founders
Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo. The art form is known to "resist
fixity" and be difficult to define; notably, founder Hijikata Tatsumi
viewed the formalisation of butoh with "distress". Common features of
the art form include playful and grotesque imagery, taboo topics, extreme or
absurd environments, and it is traditionally performed in white body makeup
with slow hyper-controlled motion. However, with time butoh groups are
increasingly being formed around the world, with their various aesthetic ideals
Kokoro’s almost 75 minute work Embryotrophic Cavatina
a special relevance for me. The work is dedicated to former Kokoro dancer
Michael Whitfield who died in 2013. But the music, Zbigniew Preisner’s Requiem or my Friend
was composed after the death of noted
Polish cinematographer Krzysztof Kieslowski
whom I met a few years before he
died. The man wasn’t exactly a happy man. When he posed for me he did not even hint at a smile.
Attempting to understand the intricacies of Butoh
movements and facial expressions might be daunting. But this is not so if you
just sit, watch and be moved by feelings expressed by the dancers. In the case
of this work they are Jay Hirabayashi, his partner Barbara Bourget, Billy
Marchenski and Molly McDermott.
Butoh involves lots of slow movement with bent knees.
This is gruelling. At first the dancers explode into puffs of white as their
special body coating floats into the air. Soon the sweat stops that action and
you can see the strain of a dance that rarely is fast.
Hirabayashi who is 70 and Bourget (who must not be too
far from that age) show extreme resilience. Marchenski, a very tall and very
muscled man (as fit as his partner Alison Denham
) and McDermott with her
beautiful red hair (not shaved as Bourget’s red hair!) had the right soft
expression on her face to compensate for the others who at only one spot did I
notice a big smile from Hirabayashi.
The lighting by Gerald King, mostly blue, put me in that
nice but melancholy mood. Tsuneko Kokubo’s projected images and costumes (for
the second half where Kokoro dancers were uncharacteristically not undraped)
went well with the lighting design. The costumes were dresses that showed
(coincidental?) a likeness to the program cover designed by Hirabyashi’s ex-wife
Alix Hirabayashi (who happened to be sitting right next to me.)
Preisner composed his work to be performed live. The
music was not live but the presence of the dancers gave the work all that
pathos and a sense of loss for the death of a good friend.
I went to the September 20 performance.
That Female Angel
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
In the middle of the night, on July 28, 1957 I was
awakened by a terrible swaying and a very loud bang. I was living in an high-rise
apartment in Mexico City with my mother and grandmother. It was, we found out
later, an earthquake at 7.9 on the Richter scale. There were about 79
deaths and not more probably because the temblor was centered around Acapulco.
The very loud bang we heard was the falling of the Angel
of Independence on Paseo de La Reforma and Tiber. We lived nearby.
Homero Aridjis's Female Angels
Many of us in the city were surprised to find out that
the angel in question was a female. She was quickly restored.
Pete Turner & Khalistan
Monday, September 18, 2017
|Pete Turner - 1964|
This particular blog will interest photographers of a
certain age (you know what I mean). So the warning is in effect for those who
might want to read on.
In the 60s, to the middle 90s I loved and purchased
photography magazines which included Modern Photography, Popular Photography,
Peterson’s Photography and the best of them all Modern Photography. These
magazines deteriorated to what they (the few that are left) which are really
service pieces on equipment and there are few if any photographs in them that
inspire me. I particularly cite the ones of spectacular sky and mountain scenes
reflected to perfection on a calm and pristine lake.
In the years that I cite there would have been few issues
that did not feature at least one photograph by Pete Turner who died on September 18
at age 83.
He pioneered two features of photography that are now
rampantly exploited by people who might ignore of his existence in life or
acknowledge his death. The saturarted look in photography is in and pastels do not exist.
He was the first to really promote the idea of intense
(saturated was his term) colours. He did this by purposely underexposing
Kodachrome from one half to one full stop. He added to the intensity of colour
by using polarizers. Because he had the gamut of the best magazines at his
disposal they were able to reproduce his photograph even before the advent of
His most famous image was one he took in 1964 in Africa
of a giraffe which he drastically overexposed (something he was prone to never
do!). He salvaged it by re photographing it and using filters to transform his
image into something that was not reality. In effect Photoshop-before-Photoshop.
He shot countless music albums and magazine covers. He was a super-saturated
The above brings me to why I especially remembered Turner
today and why I called my friend and former magazine art director (of super
saturated talent) whom I met in the early 80s when he came from Maclean’s
Magazine to art direct Vancouver Magazine.
Before his arrival I had badly overexposed many slides
(slides have a very poor tolerance for exposure fluctuation) I took at a racing
weekend at Westwood. In those days you simply threw them away as there was no
So afraid I was of overexposure that I underexposed all
my slides by half a stop. Soon both
Malcolm Parry (the editor) and Chris Dahl gave me the nickname of Half-Stop.
They did not like my darkish slides.
It all came to a boil when I was assigned to photograph a
Sikh who was involved in promoting Khalistan as a separate country from India.
I took two types of photographs, one with a weapon and one without. One of
them, the one without the weapon leant itself more for a cover. The photographs were badly underexposed. I
got ready for a reprimand and to hear what no photographer ever wants to hear, “You
are going to have to re-shoot this.”
That was not the case. Dahl with his weekly magazine
expertise knew how to put out fires. Perhaps he knew about Pete Turner. He said
to me, "I am going to send this to Commercial Illustrators and have them copy
the two slides with a 4x5 camera to correct the exposure and then convert that
to a colour negative which we will print."
And so it was.
What we could not have predicted is that Vancouver
Magazine was banned for a while from the best hotels in town for what they thought was an
offensive cover. I cannot find my cover in my stuff here so you will have to