Mar 31, 2009

More Rome backlog

Villa Madama, plus a bit of a windowshop in the Piazza di Spagna area.

Mar 25, 2009

Ecsif in Valencia

Via Wooster Collective. More here and here.

Mar 24, 2009

A slightly foolish caper

You wouldn't know it, but these pictures of Fawkner Park were taken in the midst of a rather fierce windstorm in early March. There were leaves and dust flying at me from all directions. Probably not really the smartest time to whip out the camera, I guess. But what can I say? I just really really like Moreton Bay fig trees.

Mar 18, 2009

Meels' Year of the Photo, part one

1. Congolese woman displaced by massacre, DRC
2. Light projection at the Tower of David, Israel
3. Preparations for Barack Obama's inauguration, USA
4. Illegal child labourers, India
5. Winter festival celebrations, Greece
6. Electric Time co. employee, USA
7. Chinese New Year lanterns, China
8. Complete solar eclipse, Kazakhstan

9. Holi festival of colours, India
10. Escaping the heat, Afghanistan

These images are all from the Big Picture blog at, the website of the Boston Globe. The Big Picture is run by web developer Allan Taylor, and is uploaded three times a week. Pictures come from AP, Reuters, Getty, and various public domain sources such as NASA, and posts range from current events, like images of the Victorian bushfires to more thematic, photo-essay type pieces like the series of images of people at work. Of the site, Taylor says:
"Inspired by publications like Life Magazine (of old), National Geographic, and online experiences like's Picture Stories galleries and Brian Storm's MediaStorm, The Big Picture is intended to highlight high-quality, amazing imagery - with a focus on current events, lesser-known stories and, well, just about anything that comes across the wire that looks really interesting."
Needless to say, The Big Picture gives me an awful case of itchy travelling feet every time I look at it. It also, of course, makes me all the more keen to get myself a good digital SLR camera that I can really put through its paces. It makes me want to get out there, where big things are happening, and it highlights the importance of being in the right place in the right time. The notion of documenting disasters and emergencies, though, does raise the question of just when photographers should step back from the victims of tragedy and put their cameras away. To take a local example, the photos of the areas of Victoria affected by the bush fires of February 7 were incredibly moving, and helped bring home the reality of the situation to a city dweller like myself, who feels little direct impact. Forget about koalas, this is the image that really got to me:

Documenting tragedy helps those not immediately present to understand the gravity of what has happened, to empathise with those who were there, and to fully comprehend the extent of destruction. Yet, could it not also be said that in the weeks following a tragedy, seeing a constant stream of reminders of the destruction do anything but help people move on. When the parts of Victoria affected by the bushfired were reopened (having previously been classified as crime scenes, and closed off as a result) residents were upset by what was dubbed by the media as "bushfire tourism" - people from the city cruising through the desolation at 20ks an hour, snapping away as they went.
I really don't seem to have reached a conclusion here. What I guess I am trying to say is that whilst some of the most fascinating and moving photos are those that show people in emotional extremes, I cannot escape the notion that to shove a camera in someone's face at such a time is rather unforgiveable. Sum total observation: as much as I adore and am inspired by what they do, I an just not cut out to be a photojournalist. Sigh.
I am declaring 2009 Amelia's inaugural Year-of-the-Photo, in which I get myself a film camera or two, and learn/experiement/refine. Part of this all is looking at and thinking about other photographers and why they interest me. So this is installment number one, more will be coming once I put my Rome-follow-up assignments to rest once and for all.
EDIT: I have just whiled away far too much time looking at MediaStorm, the link Allan Taylor refers to. It is truly phenomenal.

Mar 16, 2009

VR Morrison goes all Caravaggio on me

So in a somewhat inspired somewhat overwhelmed state post Melbourne Art Fair 08, I looked up all the names I'd noted down while there and saved a bunch of images for future reference. I then went on to completely forget that the files were there, only to stumble upon them in a moment of procrastination tonight. What with Lisa giving me a book on Caravaggio for my birthday, old Mr Merisi is on my mind a bit, so this made me laugh:

(Self Portrait with Doppelganger, 2006)

The Caravaggio original, David with the head of Goliath, is possibly one of the most overanalysed paintings in the history of art history, and in fact Caravaggio himself has been plain and simply analysed to death. Why? His biography is interesting; lots of contemporaries had lots to say about him and his temperament. We know what he looked like, and figures with similar appearences to his own feature in the backgrounds of several of his religious works. So, of course, the freudian-art history gravy train says that these disguised self portraits are a further indication of Caravaggio's turbulent soul; his uncertainty (or even disdain) when it came to religion. Art historians writing on David with the head of Goliath have gone as far as to say that by depicting himself as the slain giant, Carvaggio is showing self-loathing as a result of his violent nature, effectively wishing he, too, was dead, and condemning himself to death along with Goliath. I would argue that the disguised portraits provide a means for Caravaggio to self-interrogate rather than to make concrete statements about his identity. To say that we can distill how he feels about it is maybe taking it a wee step too far. But anyway, this isn't the point. We can't decisively say how V. R. Morrison feels about herself either, but I think it is safe to say that she's referencing Caravaggio here.

(David with the head of Goliath, c1605-10)

More art fair artists to come, eventually, however I have massive backlog of Rome posts to get through first, so this will have to be a teaser for now.

Mar 15, 2009

Wooster Collective: pushing all my buttons

On Wooster today: these...

(London-based graffiti artist Word to Mother, artist pic from WTM's gallery's website,


(Sam Spenser, 'Umbrella Bloom')


...PLUS a short n' sweet but nonetheless thoughtful piece on the way the GFC is affecting artists, galleries, and art prices.
I have done a little rummaging of le interwebs because the Sam Spenser piece leaves me very curious indeed. It turns out that it is from 2007, and was comissioned by the french champagne company, Veuve Clicquot to celebrate 120 years of its signature yellow colour. The exhibition was called "Yellow Since 1887," and is described in a little more detail in this times online article. I like the author's acknowledgement that while it is not always ideal to see corporate interests driving creative endeavour, such arrangements can still lead to interesting and thoughtful art. More images of Umbrella Bloom, this time stolen from flickr user warholuva via All the yellowey goodness makes me feel awfully positive about autumn approaching.

Mar 11, 2009

A trip, a trip, to the countryside

Tuesday of week two saw us wrap up warm and pack as much bus-friendly food as we possibly could, in preparation for a day long tiki tour north of Rome. Stops included Caprarola, Bagnaia and Bomarzo. Caprarola was reached after an arduous journey along some very windy, hilly road which was anything but bus-compatible. The town is basically a collection of very old houses clinging to the ridge of a big gorge. In the middle of it all is the rather imposing Villa Farnese. The villa is uninhabited, and basically remains a stop on the tourist tour. It feels a bit sad and unloved what with the big empty rooms. Out the back is a rather rambling woodsy type area that kept making me think of Beauty and the Beast (much to the dismay of my lecturer), which leads up to the garden proper, with a hedge maze and a large but sadly unused fountain. If anything, I think the hedge maze was the highlight of this stop.

Stop number two was the Castello Ruspoli in Vignanello. Vignanello is a tiny little town on a steep hill, with the castle quite likely being the largest building in the town. Streets are narrow, and we frequently passed under archways and up stone staircases to get to the castle.

Stop number three: Villa Lante in Bagnaia. Villa Lante was comissioned by Cardinal Gianfresco Gambarra, and it is the translation of his name, "crayfish," that drives the design of the Villa's famous feature series of fountains and water features.

Stop the last was the Sacro Bosco, or Moster Park - depending on the age of the visitor - at Bomarzo. The garden was created by Vicino Orsini to commemorate the death of his wife. Seems a bit strange to remember a loved one with monsters, but hey, it does make for an awfully interesting garden, so we weren't complaining. I think this is far too much text already, so without further ado, ze photographs:

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