Dec 10, 2009

In two parts

I have been seeing photo diptyches around the webs for a while now and ached with jealousy, because what with no photoshop, I figured they were out of my league. Sydneysider Louise Hawson's brilliant 52 Suburbs in particular makes me bristle with inspiration/envy - and awesome as it is, it deserves a whole post to itself, so stay posted - so this evening I decided to try my luck with free software. Surely there would be something out there?
After being flumoxed by flickr, and wandering about on google, I finally found Dipstych, a free application available here. It took all ten seconds to download and is pleasingly easy to use - essentially you just open the two (or three, or more) images you want to appear together, chose which will be on the right and which on the left, and hey presto, a new file, in diptych form. At the end of the day, I will have to eventually bite the bullet and buy photoshop, but Dipstych will keep me plenty occupied in the meantime (EDIT: A set of 80-plus diptyches on flickr has confirmed this).

Dec 9, 2009

Dec 2, 2009

Ah Xian

I first saw Ah Xian's beautiful and intricate busts at the National Gallery of Victoria for 2006's Contemporary Commonwealth exhibition. But, fool that I am, I promptly forgot all about them. Fast forward to 2009, and Ah Xian has won the Clemenger Contemporary art prize, and I feel vindicated for falling so madly in love with the busts I saw way back when, and eternally foolish for forgetting about something so striking. Usually Xian works in traditional Chinese materials such as jade, or shiny white porcelian painted with archetypal willow pattern designs. The series of sculpted busts featured in the Clemenger exhibition present a break with these traditional materials -- they are cast from concrete, which gives them a pale, matte finish. Despite the heaviness of the material, they retain an aura of delicacy, not least because each cast has been 'texturised,' so to speak, with inprints of leaves and flowers. Each bust is different, both in regards to the original head it has been cast from, and in regards to the design element, yet they are united by the ghostly beige of the concrete. As such, the installation continues a theme prevalent in Xian's earlier work -- that of cultural identity -- whilst also incorporating themes of alienation and dislocation. A worthy winner indeed.

A Man of Many Talents

Image credit: Fecal Face 2008 interview with Alex Lucas. More recent interview here.

So while I was posting my photos of the oil refinery, wondering if I was alone in my love of grimy industrial suburbia, the internet Powers that be decided to make it clear to me just what a silly question that was. I was browsing my love for you is a stampede of horses, where I happened across a post on Alex Lukas. The post describes Lukas as a boy-wonder, and after checking out his portfolio site, I heartily agree. Lukas' most recent works  -- he calls them "disaster drawings" -- feature cities flooded with water or swallowed up by trees, but seeing as I had western suburbs waste on my mind at the time, it was his depictions of industrial detritus that struck me the most. I like the quiet stillness and the delicacy of the colours despite the grimy subject matter, and the luminosity of the skies. I like that whilst they initially appear to be watercolours, a closer inspection (and a read of Lucas' comments regarding his working method), they are revealed to be a skillful combination of silkscreen printing, watercolous, gouache, spray paint, and sometimes collage. Wowsers. A happy and serendipitous discovery if ever there was one.

 Image credit: Lucas' website. 

Oh yeah, and as if he isn't talented (and busy!) enough already, did I forget to mention that Lucas also publishes numerous zines through his publishing house, Cantab Publishing? Is there anything this guy can't do?

Image credit: Fecal Face

Nov 21, 2009

Meanwhile take 3: way out west

A month or so ago, Corinne and I went on a photo-excursion to Melbourne's western suburbs, searching for gritty, industrial goodness. The oil refinery at Altona was only too happy to oblige, not to mention the interesting bits and bobs dumped down the road from it (I'm kind of in love with the way this couch looks like it has a face). The rain rolled in and we headed to Williamstown for coffee and shelter, only to bravely (and foolishly?) venture out onto the pier, umbrella at the ready. Another friend, after looking at this set said "I love your photos, but they make want to keep the hell out of the west." I guess not everyone goes gaga when they see broken down industrial buildings and decomposing couches left out to the elements, but whenever I need a jolt of photographic inspiration, I know where I'll be heading!

Santa, are you listening?

To think that I was feeling glum over missing out on a Pentax Spotmatic on eBay...the $100 or so that I didn't spend on the Spotmatic is small change next to this puppy:

That's right, Leica has collaborated with French luxury accessory house Hermes to create the most expensive, droolworthy camera around. The limited edition M7 is clad in leather, either in camel brown, or the signature Hermes orange. Only 100 of each colourway have been made, but something tells me they will be snapped up quicksmart, even with a (HEFTY) pricetag of €7000. Take a deep breath, and read that again. Yep, that's 140 Spotmatics. Doesn't make it any less fantastic or desirable. I guess we can all dream.

PS: Don't you just love the nonchalant way this guy is carrying the camera BEHIND him, completely at the mercy of ye olde pickpocket?

[Via Limited Hype.]

Meanwhile post #2: art-o-matic

These photos come from serveral weekends' worth of wandering and looking; evidently my August and September were very art-filled indeed. 

From the top:
1. Looking up, Hosier Lane
2 - 4. Tacita Dean at ACCA (a well-written review, plus some more photos here)
5. Mystery art at Curtin House
6. Zizi and the zig zags, off Hosier Lane
7. Colours and shapes, Smith Street
8. Spring showers on Swanston Street
10. Flatland by Tim Fleming, Nicholas Building
11. Detail of Clare Whitney's studio, Nicholas Building
12. The Nicholas Building has had some interesting former residents
13. Keith Haring mural on Johnston Street
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