The Monster

12mm, Subaru

…has arrived, the big “popeye” Sigma 12-24mm zoom. It’s a full-frame 35mm lens, though on my digi its range is 19-38mm. Ran a bunch of shots through it right away, anxious about reports that some copies were soft in the corners. Not this one! It performed well for every aperture, with a minimum of barrel distortion too.

At last, a proper wide angle view for the DSLR. I am so digging it. But the size — yeow!

1 min read

A Kind of Blindness

(C)2004

Current listening: “Nightingale” by Yoshikazu Mera, whose voice anime fans would recognize from his melancholic rendition of the title theme from Miyazaki’s Mononoke Hime. The album is subtitled “Japanese Art Songs,” and is something of a rarity here: just voice and piano accompaniment in a Swedish recording of contemporary Japanese kunstlieder. It is at once close to the heart of conservative music and yet bold and expressive in its realization. For all the admiration I have for brilliant arrangements on a large and complex scale, whether it be a Kid Koala scratch track or Beethoven’s magnificent Ninth, there’s still nothing more expressive than the direct voice. Simple clarity. Eminem exagerrates (duh): “nobody listens to techno” but we know what he means.

I’ve been shuffling lots of digital pictures around lately, moving them from my space-strapped laptop to CDs as backups and also to one of the desktop machines. As long as I was rebuilding picture folders, last night I had Photoshop bulk-duplicate several of them in monochrome and ran the results as a slideshow for a while. The result surprised me.

1 min read

The Gray

Sunnyvale, May 2004 (C) K. Bjorke

The Kind of Blindness post has had me thinking further about color perception, cognition, etc etc — of the many interactions that drive the life of any sort of image (or performance): interactions between the world and the artist; between artist and their tools and medium; between the image as made and the artist; between the image and an external viewer; and sometimes even between that external viewer, as part of the world, back onto the artist (or their dealer). Wheels within wheels.

4 min read

every man for himself

Every

A few years back (okay, a bunch of years back), I attended a session at the University Film Society, at the Bell Museum on the University of Minnesota campus. Guest for the evening, Werner Herzog, I think to promote Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe, though that night we watched Aguirre, the Wrath of God.

Afterwards, we went for drinks Herzog. The topic of the Jonestown People’s Temple mass suicide came up.The Jonestown Massacre. It was still very much in the press. What did Herzog think?

“I think that’s great, 900 fewer assholes in the world.”

2 min read

Stand-ups

Mountain View, CA 2004

A few weeks back I alluded in passing to my general contempt for the “stand-up” — a modern practice of TV “news reporting” where instead of actually showing you something revealing about a news story, the camera instead simply rests on the “on-air talent” while they stand in front of someplace where actual news and possibly reporting once took place (or maybe just nearby). This month’s digitaljournalist has a story about one news shooter’s experience doing stand-ups here in San Francisco. One local channel (probably others), our NBC affiliate, prides itself on LIVE stand-ups — each evening’s 11 PM newscast is overloaded with reporters standing around in the cold night air, usually in front of a court building or other news-intensive locale that’s been closed for five or six hours already.

It’s hard to imagine the stand-up in any media other than television. Even the old movie newsreels didn’t have it. The appearance and nightly re-appearance of the reporter-as-demi-celebrity is purely a television invention and it doesn’t work anywhere else. No one writes a newspaper headline in first person. We don’t open and close magazine stories with photos of the reporters and photographers. We don’t care what they wear.

3 min read