Saturday, August 08, 2015
I hate selfies and I despise
the term pic and worse still “Nice pic.” By the turn of the century I
was objecting to the digital term capture as in “I captured this
photograph.” It was worse when in what I thought was artistic pretension
the word image was used instead of photograph. Let's forget about MOMA's term for prints made with photographic paper, silver gelatin prints.
in 2015 this old man simply tries to ignore all the above and I live in
my world of cameras with film with which I take photographs (but I do
own a Fuji X-EI with which I take photographs.) I sometimes use the word snap instead of take. I find it less pretentious.
I see a mirror (I have a fondness for the bathroom mirrors of
restaurants and cafes) I take a selfie but it always has to be a selfie
with someone else.
picture above is a fake selfie. I took the picture of the pair, a
reflection on a bedroom mirror while they faked taking a selfie. I am
not sure if in fact they may have taken one.
Enormous Techno Petals - Skyfaring
Friday, August 07, 2015
As I fasten my seat
belt I remember how we started the engines yesterday. How the sudden and
suspicious hush fell in the cockpit as the airflow for the air-conditioning units
was diverted; how air alone began to spin the enormous techno petals of the
fans, spin them and spin them, faster and faster, until fuel and fire were added, and each engine woke with a low rumble
that grew to a smooth and unmistakable roar – the signature of one of our age’s
most perfect means of purifying and directing physical power.
Skyfaring – A Journey with a Pilot – Mark Vanhoenacker
Four years ago when I noticed I owned about 4000 books I
made a commitment of not buying anymore and depending on our wonderful
Vancouver public library system. I have been tempted many times by book reviews
I read in my daily NY Times (hard copy) and particularly in the Sunday Book
Review. But I resist and have until now.
I broke down after finding that there were over 25 holds at
the Vancouver Public Library for Mark Vanhoenacker’s Skyfaring.
I went to Chapters on Broadway and Granville and purchased
Alas! This book is like spooning very good honey. You have
to do it in small portions. The book is so good, every paragraph, every
sentence sings. It is similar to reading novels written by poets or by poets
who never wrote poetry but only novels. José Saramago
is one of the latter and
Mexican poet Homero Aridjis
the former. And there is Vancouver's George McWhirter
another poet who also writes novels.
Such is the beauty of every page of Skyfaring that I look
forward to getting into bed late at night to perhaps read at the most half a
As Rosemary and I prepare to downsize (a word that
Vanhoenacker would shun for its unmusicality) I know that my book collection
even when compressed to fewer than 4000 will have to include this splendid one.
Art History On The Fly
Thursday, August 06, 2015
For close to 17 years my Rosemary and I have been receiving
a daily New York Times. I believe that it has contributed to making my
knowledge of the world of literature, science, politics, history, psychology,
dance, theatre, food, and film greater or at the very least better than it was. I
also believe that I have obtained an intense history of art on the fly.
The paper has stuff on the visual arts (painting,
photography, sculpture) almost every day but particularly on Fridays the arts coverage
has two separate exclusive sections. The one on the visual arts has added to my
knowledge of painters that I knew like Goya and Velázquez but it has also
helped me appreciate American artists like Homer, Eakins, Sargent and Hopper.
But there is more via ads on Mondays by M.S. Rau Antiques
in New Orleans. Recently they had an ad for a splendid pair of Crimean
War British canon. This Monday's Kathy by John Kacere riveted my eyes. I now look forward every week to more from the New Orleans gallery.
The ad for this last week intrigued me and led me to
check out an artist I had never heard of, John Kacere
. Perhaps since I don’t
have a formal art education this is why that is the case. The fact is that
Kacere’s bio and his output is strange but attractive to my eyes. In all my
photography of the female body I tended to avoid underwear (I don’t do lingerie
My guess is that particularly in Vancouver (in spite of a
rapidly diminishing minority of puritanical Scots) a most conservative city,
where a contemporary version of Modigliani would be applying to employment
insurance (Is that Amedeo I spotted working at the Robson and Thurlow
Starbucks?) Kacere would horrify most arts patrons and connoisseurs. They would
find him tacky, almost pornographic. They would say he is objectifying women,
etc. (you know the drill)
I think that Kacere at the very least (he obsessively did
these female torsos for at least 10 years) makes me feel that I may not be as
unhinged as some people think I am with my penchant and love for the
photography of the undraped female.
|Photograph - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward|
Nun Nicer @ The Roundhouse - Queer Arts Festival
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
|Alexander Weimann & Reginald Mobley - August 5 2015|
The above to be heard this Thursday at 7:30 at the Roundhouse.
Had I early in my life chosen to be a plumber, it is most
doubtful that besides the generous amount of money that I would have in the
bank that I would have spent a couple of hours today listening to Reginald (Reggie)
Mobley, Alexander (Alex) Weimann and Beiliang Zhu rehearse the music of
composers of doubtful sexual persuasion of the 18th and 17th
century. There are a few advantages in being a photographer and not a plumber.
Since I lived a large chunk of my life in Argentina and
Mexico members of the gay community had to (until recently) exercise caution
and a low profile.
My fave Spanish (Argentine) euphemism for lesbian is
tortillera (omelette maker). I have no idea on the origin of the use of that
word for this specific meaning. Of men in Mexico they sometimes say "los del 41"(of the 41). It seems that in the early 50s police raided a gay party and arrested 41.
The fact is that Early Music Vancouver
under the tutelage of
Artistic Director Matthew White (who until recently was a most competent
countertenor, more on what is a countertenor below) has embarked on throwing to the wind what was until now an almost
strict and narrow interpretation of what makes music, early music. You can now add exciting to that interpretation.
Consider that this year besides all those wonderful
composers of the 17th century that most of us have never heard of we
have had Brahms and now a Queen’s Music (with the special connotation of a
queen of the draped boa kind) at the Roundhouse tomorrow Thursday. The music featured is of composers who may have been ahead in their time of our contemporary rainbow revolution.
Reginald Mobley is a black countertenor who happens to live
in Boston. While I am not going to ask him directly, “Reggie, are you gay?” I
must presume that he is so. He has prepared a program for tomorrow at the
Roundhouse which is a co-production of Early Music Vancouver and the Queer Arts Festival.
Let’s first clear up as to what exactly a countertenor is.
In some ways Del Shannon
was one even though he did not know it. A countertenor
is a baritone who sings in falsetto. The voice resembles a female alto and that
of those unfortunate men of past centuries who had a prominent but baggy male
organ severed so as to keep the pure and high tone of the young boy before his
voice changed. Posterity can thank Joseph Haydn’s father for refusing to have
his son’s, …ahem removed as young Joseph had a beautiful voice.
Modern countertenors are intact in every way but can still
perform the music that was intended for them. This is particularly the fact for
many of Handel’s operas where the hero protagonist is a high pitched male
voice. With the revival of baroque music there are now many countertenors who
need not indulge in plumbing to make money. One of the best (if not the best) is Reginald Mobley.
At the rehearsal today, with harpsichordist AlexanderWeimann
(Artistic Director of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and keyboardist as
he is also playing the piano tomorrow, with music of Cole Poeter and Stephen Sondheim, etc.) and baroque cellist (no end pin but prominent gut
strings) Beiliang Zhu, at the UBC School of music Mobley told me he was
influenced early in his youth by jazz and blues. In fact one of his early
teachers (wow!) was Ella Fitzgerald.
The program’s first part is all about composers of the 17th
and 18th century. The second half, with Weimann on the piano has
some Schubert, Chopin and (yes!) Rorem, Coward, Porter and Sondheim.
Today in the rehearsal I listened to the music of two Italian nuns, Isabella
Leonarda (1620-1704) and Chiara Margarita Cozzolani (1602-1678). Both of them
were singers who composed for the other nuns of their respective convents.
Mobley said that they were alleged tortilleras. In Cozzolani you will listen to
in O quam tristis rapid fire use of ave and eva. The former is a very white
Virgin Mary, the latter a not so white passionate woman with not so lofty
For those who may not have listened to this kind of music
before here are some pointers.
1. At first Mobley’s countertenor voice will sound odd. Mobley
is so good that you will soon forget the oddness and concentrate on his vocal
and most expressive excellence. Note that he wears spats
. That is one of his
many sartorial touches. Mobley has a bit of dyslexia so he tells me he depends
on his Samsung pad to read lines. He has difficulty memorizing lines.
2. Particularly with the two nuns you might listen to notes
that sound like the wrong notes. This is not the case. Mobley told me that
early music (of the baroque period) pre-figured jazz and its penchant for improvisation.
So make believe that the wrong notes are the right wrong notes of Thelonious
Monk. In the 17th century composers of what was called the Fantastic
Period, liked these notes. So do I.
3. Baroque instruments were rarely played in large
auditoriums (they did not exist) or large halls. The sound is subtle and much
less loud. Thursday night you will enjoy all the subtlety of Weimann’s virtuoso
harpsichord playing. Beiliang Zhu on cello plays what those in the business
call continuo. That is a complicated word for bass playing no different from that in
Draped to Kill Redux
Tuesday, August 04, 2015
I am 72 years old. Until the
bottom fell in journalism and magazines I was a most prosperous and busy
photographer with a very nice studio in downtown Vancouver. I am now
retired (not exactly by choice) but I feel that I am taking some of the
best photographs of my life. I shoot and shoot. For three years I have
had a Fuji X-E1 which was and is my first digital camera. I find that
shooting for fun, for oneself is nice indeed.
have an efficient darkroom in the basement of my house where I process
my b+w film and print them on my venerable Beseler enlarger with
Dichroic color head (very good for dealing with variable contrast b+w
This means that I
can shoot with my 3 Nikon FM-2 cameras. My film of choice for many years
was Kodak Plus-X but for the shot here I used Kodak Tr-X. I was
teaching a class called the Contemporary Portrait Nude. My students were
using mono-light equipped with a softbox. So as not to intrude I banged
off some snaps exposed for the modeling lights of the flash unit.
then I have discovered that for optimum skin the film to use is Kodak
T-Max 400 which I process in T-Max Developer. I no longer use Kodak
HC-110 which I first started using when I was 20.
colour of this picture is easy to do. I scan my b+w negative with my
Epson Perfection V700 Photo. I scan it as an RGB negative. Once scanned I
play with the yellow and the red to achieve something like what you see
Draped to kill
Monday, August 03, 2015
|Photograph - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward|
“Wickedness was like food: once you got started it was hard
to stop; the gut expanded to take in more and more.”
Las Babas del Diablo
Sunday, August 02, 2015
las muchas maneras de combatir la nada, una de las mejores es sacar
fotografías, actividad que debería enseñarse tempranamente a los niños pues
exige disciplina, educación estética, buen ojo y dedos seguros. No se trata de
estar acechando la mentira como cualquier repórter, y atrapar la estúpida
silueta del personajón que sale del número 10 de Downing Street, pero de todas
maneras cuando se anda con la cámara hay como el deber de estar atento, de no
perder ese brusco y delicioso rebote de un rayo de sol en una vieja piedra, o
la carrera trenzas al aire de una chiquilla que vuelve con un pan o una botella
de leche. Michel sabía que el fotógrafo opera siempre como una permutación de
su manera personal de ver el mundo por otra que la cámara le impone insidiosa
(ahora pasa una gran nube casi negra), pero no desconfiaba, sabedor de que le
bastaba salir sin la Contax para recuperar el tono distraído, la visión sin
encuadre, la luz sin diafragma ni 1/250. Ahora mismo (qué palabra, ahora, qué
estúpida mentira) podía quedarme sentado en el pretil sobre el río, mirando
pasar las pinazas negras y rojas, sin que se me ocurriera pensar
fotográficamente las escenas, nada más que dejándome ir en el dejarse ir de las
cosas, corriendo inmóvil con el tiempo. Y ya no soplaba viento.
Las Babas del Diablo - Julio Cortázar
Among the many ways of combating oblivion and
nothingness, one of the best is taking photos, an activity which should be
taught to children at an early age.
requires discipline, training in aesthetics, a good eye and sure hands.
You aren't simply lurking in wait of the lie
like some reporter or catching the moronic silhouette of the big shot coming
out of 10 Downing Street.
In any case,
when one is abroad with a camera one is almost obliged to be attentive, so as
not to lose that rough and delicious career of sunlight on an old stone, or the
dancing braids of a girl returning with a loaf or a bottle of milk.
Michel knew that the photographer always
operated like a permutation of his own personal manner of seeing the world, all
the more since his camera rendered him insidious (now a large, almost black
cloud passes by).
But he did not
mistrust this fact, knowing full well that he could leave the house without the
Contax and still recuperate the distracted tone, the vision bereft of framing,
the light without diaphragm or 1/250 shutter speed.
Just now (what a word, now, what a stupid
lie) I could have remained seated on the parapet above the river, watching the
red and black pine needles pass, without it occurring to me to think of the
scenes photographically, letting myself go to things letting themselves go, and
running to stand still with time.
the wind was not blowing.
Las balas del diablo
La noche boca arriba
La noche boca arriba II
Nunca se sabrá - no one will ever know