“OK, that’s good, why?” and how we look into it.

What do you listen to in a song?

  • Melodies, harmony, structure, voices, bass, guitars, keyboards, drums, originality, energy, lyrics, production?

What do you watch in a photography or a painting?

  • Colors, details, meaning, characters, originality, lines, atmosphere, size, composition?

What do you watch in a book?

  • Progression, story, characters, style, words, originality, phrases?

What do you watch in a movie?

  • Scenario, editing, characters, frames, camera work, action, sense of place, composition, music?

And in architecture, poetry, marketing?

It’s not exactly how we “watch” something, but how we stop in front of something and try to understand where the pleasure comes from. A little bit more like:

“OK that’s good, why? – let’s look into it”.

My choices upstairs are bolded. Lyrics are probably important when I discover a track, BUT I always try to understand the structure, I listen to the bass player, and harmony progressions and changes. More than melodies, or the song’s energy.

In front of a painting that stops me, I want to know “what did the painter want?”. Same from photography, or movies. I dig into (or try to imagine) how the artist dealt with the audience.

So, well, it’s a matter of empathy, or structures/skeletons, of what’s hidden. Nobody listens to the bass, nor really cares about a photo’s composition. It’s all about the singer or the lead guitar, it’s all about colors and “events”.

What I choose to look into tells a lot.

Therefore I think that it is a good exercise when we meet someone, to watch and listen and ask: “What do you like in this? Why?”.

This “says” something about the person. If they are an empath or not, if they’re a thinker or not, fast or slow, surfacing or diving, heavy or light…

Thanks for reading!

Thomas Struth, German photographer

Thomas Struth, born in 1954, is a German photographer.

I read about him (he loves museums, he loves “series” of photos, he shows large formats) and I watched his pictures, but I couldn’t find or decide why I stayed… but I stayed, and kept exploring his work.

This tropism, when you discover something, you don’t know why you insist exploring it, because obviously you don’t know why you like it, but you like it!

Is it because of this street :

Or this road :

Or these people watching… what :

Or this city :

Like Jeff Wall, he :

These photos stop me. They have something I don’t understand.

I have this inner smile.

Well, I think I’ll need a book…

Thanks for reading!

Ambiguity & Types : Chronicle 59

A few years ago I read an interview of a teacher, he was smart and interesting. The last question from the journalist triggered a shift, though. What was bothering him? His answer was a surprise. It was something like:

“What bothers me is that in every class I taught in my career I found the same typology, with very little variations : in every classroom of 15 years old students, you find a sporty, a fat kid, a funny idiot, an angry rebel, an introvert girl, a shy blond, a dreamer, a goth, a nerd. That’s boring!”.

“I empty my head in front of stupid TV”.

Hmmm?

How TF do you translate a Style? There’s a witchy case:

Marguerite Duras was a French writer with a very special style. It’s difficult… even to define it! And of course it’s a part of her wizardry.

It’s between spoken language and a modest incantatory style. It’s full of mistakes, like a dyslexic person with strokes of genius. It’s gorgeous, blazing and magic… and completely quirky at the same time.

Therefore when you read Duras you have to let go something, a logical normal way to accept narration. It’s audacious, fascinating, it swallows you in a strange, new rhythm – a words-witch!

I really wonder how people in the USA consider the people of other states

I wanted to write an article about “mean quotes about women”. Here are some :

Women show up and they cling to you and they destroy you
Thomas Bernhard

Beware when you’re caught in a woman’s dreams
Gilles Deleuze

What does that mean? That these guys were afraid? Afraid of what? A power? Are men defenseless?

I read a book about ambiguity in architecture, therefore I wanted to write “At once This and That, the pleasure of ambiguity”.

Ambiguity is when you can’t decide if this is something or something else. In buildings : a window, a corridor, stairs, everything can be two things at the same time.

Of course it TELLS something, that some architects want, seek this. They hate minimalism, the obvious “clean” thing. They love what I think is the essence of modernity :

To make something to make people wonder and smile, instead of making people say “Ohhh that’s beautiful”.

Zola about Manet

Of course I love this! Things (and us) can be this AND that, we can juxtapose, rotate, double-fonction, adapt. It’s enrichment, intelligence, faces. A door can decorate. A cook can be a musician. The superfluous is necessary…

Haecceity

Incompleteness gives untranquility.

  • Game of desires (I want what I don’t have), I buy it, it kills desire for a moment. A loop and a dodge.
  • Incompleteness born from boredom : “what can I do I don’t know what to do something is lacking but what”.
  • Media pressure to be rich or famous or happy.
  • Desire to be valued by people around, or… the world, and nobody really cares.
  • Linked to “lost childhood”, nostalgia from great old days that didn’t even exist.
  • Fado, Saudade…

How to adapt? What is adaptation? When is it positive, or negative?

Thanks for reading!

Fellini Roma / Sternfeld Rome after Rome

Joel Sternfeld (born 1944) is an American photographer I love. He made this book, “American Prospects”, which is maybe the greatest photography book I own!

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His last one is about Rome, he focuses “on the ruins of grand structures”, putting these in relation with… today!

The editor says : “with a clear warning: great civilizations fall, ours may too”. Yeah, but I disagree. What I see is a continuous presence of the past, in ruins of splendid architecture, the today-reality invaded with the ordinary (people and their “things”, who seem to ignore the past). There’s no warning here, though it’s probably a little sarcastic…

Each photography has the “sense of the place”, shows a spotmood, but it’s also like a game : spotting where is the old villa, the aqueduct, weaving an ugly link between the old past and the now…

Here are some examples.

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This one is a masterpiece :

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https://www.moma.org/artists/5656

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I’m French and I can say I’m obsessed with three countries : Russia, Italy, and the USA. I’m currently finishing a long study of Fellini’s work.

Fellini’s Roma (1972) is a strange movie, let’s ask Wiki (I bolded the bold) : “It is a homage to the city, shown in a series of loosely connected episodes set during both Rome’s past and present. The plot is minimal, and the only “character” to develop significantly is Rome herself.”

Kaleidoscopic it is : a traffic jam (one of the most incredible scene I’ve seen in my life!), a guesthouse, brothels, a vaudeville theatre, streets, tunnels, catacombs, a liturgical fashion show, tourists… “The film concludes with a group of young motorcyclists riding into the city and a melancholic shot of actress Anna Magnani, whom the film crew met in the street”.

And again, the constant weaving between the past and the now, the ruins and the typical Italian “energy”, gives an interesting energy. Again, the old stones seem alive, watching us in silence…

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OK you know me : I extract a tool here, which is “In a piece of work, of art, you show two different things and you let the audience weave between both”. Where (poetry, photography, teaching, marketing)? How? What appears? What for? What do you want? Nostalgia? Denunciation? Shock? Thinking?

Have fun! Thanks for reading! Stay home!

JP

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Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 3

Ze French Coronavirus Chronicles, 3

 

I live in Lille, a city in the North of France. The neighbor country here is Belgium. When I was young in the eighties, most of university students were listening to Radio 21, a Belgian “music and news” radio, the only one in French – a part of Belgium speaks French – which aired Indie Rock at the time. David Sylvian, Clan of Xymox, but also Marrs, it’s there that I discovered some treasures…

Radio 21 disappeared, split into a radio for teens and another for adults, called Classic 21, which of course I listen – I prefer Pink Floyd, Supertramp and Police than Rihanna or Ed Sheeran.

Yesterday at 8 PM, dinner time and on radio, the news. Something like : “At 8 PM tonight, people in Belgium, confined in their appartments, applaud at their window, together, to say thank you to the nurses and doctors who fight the coronavirus”. I opened my window and immediately heard the whole neighborhood here doing the same.

 

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The majority of French humans understand the meaning of mandatory “Stay Home”. Only, I’ll be outside every two weeks for food, with my signed paper in my pocket. A few idiots though go on happying on beaches and along rivers, to socialize and see the spring and the sun. One city today (Nice) decide a curfew after 8 PM. Others will probably follow. Many cities including Paris have to close parks for this reason.

 

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Watched An Officer and a Gentleman, great romantic drama! I searched a little, to find that it’s been directed in Fort Worden, which is in the labyrinth of sea/land NW of Seattle. It’s always interesting to discover “normal” places in American movies, I mean elsewhere than New York City and L.A..

Should re-watch Urban Cowboy (with Debra Winger too).

 

***

Netflix or TV channels or Blu-rays?

I separated my TV from the cable channels in 2000. I was annoyed by the fact that I had to choose from “what was proposed to me”. Even with 400 TV channels, I had to watch what someone decided to air. Nope.

Thus I own a big collection of DVDs, then Blu-rays. I choose what I want, when I want. Netflix and her cronies are for me a lukewarm swamp, where I can choose, OK, but from what?

What if I wanted to watch an old Bergman, or a silent movie from John Ford, or a documentary about Kupka or Joni Mitchell?

 

***

Book : David Lodge autobiography. Music : Mozart Concertos for piano (Perahia).

 

***

I have another blog about photography, where I “try things” about a place, a thing. It’s, therefore, about the idea of variation. Some photographers, admittedly, say that for a given place, there’s only one… place to take a good photography. Of course one is tempted to shake their head, but I admit it makes me think. Here it is :

https://qeht.photo.blog/

Locked home, joggers and duck hunters are sad, but readers and photographers are not. They can play home.

 

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I read in a Claude Roy diary, as he’s around 70 years old, that he would like to reach this season, this state : “Le temps du cœur triste et de l’esprit gai” – the time of the sad heart and the merry spirit.

What could that mean?

 

Have a nice day! Stay safe!

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My Gurushots Tips, Part 3 (the Events)

Gurushots has invented a new smart way to involve people : they create Events twice a week, like contests of contests in small groups, involving 100 photographers of the same level at a time.

After a bunch of them where I finished 1st 2nd or 3rd, here’s what I found :

  1. When an Event stops, stop (or slow down) posting pictures in the new challenges, keep them to get fast points at the beginning of the next new Event.
  2. The challenges you have already begun will bring you fills and boosts, which will be added to the ones you got from the previous event. Keep all of them as little tools.
  3. But prepare them though. Watch the challenges, watch what people post, and get your pictures ready in your profile basket.
  4. Don’t use the daily free boosts for now, resist.

When a new event begins :

  1. First, review all 4 pictures challenges you have and use the free Boosts on the most successful pictures… or the one you love the most!
  2. Don’t forget to check and use the new free Boosts every day.
  3. Then watch the next challenges which will enterfinish soon. You will need here all the boosts you have (to unlock them). Post your work.
  4. For each of the “4 photos” challenge, I suggest you post only ONE of the four pictures. This way, you take your place in the challenge, and you won’t have to use Swaps to gain votes later (because, as you know already, the boiling appears in the last one or two hours of a challenge). When the end approaches, post the 3 others to fill it.
  5. Then watch the challenges you entered before which will finish soon. If it’s in one or two hours, activate your tools : Swap if you have low votes, Boost if you have some left, Fill. Watch what happens; maybe you’ll get a hit!
  6. If you have some Fills left, review all you current challenges and fill some the most successful ones (which means that your picture is appreciated) – but keep some Fills for later.
  7. Enter all the challenges left you can. Be creative if you don’t fill exactly the challenge rules : use toys to invent fairy tales, use nature if you don’t have National Park pictures, etc.
  8. By doing this, you’re much more active than before, it’s why their Events was a good idea. It can happen that you get a great rank, or Guru picks, or win a challenge, who knows?
  9. Near the end of the Event, you’ll be empty of Boost, Fills and Swap. You can let go, or you can vote to push the soon closing challenges. It takes time.
  10. Please vote really, not in clicking the validation button like a fool – which would encourage the bad works.
  11. If a picture is really successful, Fill it, then every 10 minutes pile around 20 votes on the it to keep your dial at the maximum all along.

Remember : the boiling happens always at the end of a challenge, within the last hour : focus on these – everybody is active (and voting), it’s useful.

Have fun!

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“Cat & Chimneys” Photography : October Lights in a French City

I went to the the post office I walked with my little cam and the light was cool – I took the courtyard and the walls and the houses and redhead cat who’s a little the king of the street, it’s October!

I have a photographic place here : https://qeht.photo.blog/

 

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Photography : Taking the veil… off?

I know that most of photography amateurs today modify their pictures on the computer. You have powerful tool to change paramaters…

I took the first picture one summer day on a flea market. To make the second picture I :

  • increased sharpness (30%)
  • Increased contrast
  • decreased brighness

 

The two last steps “took the veil off”. It’s really like a veil. When you remove it from your pictures it’s like you cleaned the glass window between the world and your eyes.

I chose another picture with a tree. If I remove the veil, the tree’s shadow is more… correct, but I think, I feel I lost the summer mood… Maybe not. I don’t know.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading!

 

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