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Close Eyes To Exit // LE GUN.5 Exhibition

An interesting gallery space by Le Gun which features a variety of different illustrators and film makers. Pop in for the final week

Blogathamonth: BLDG/ /WLF

BLDG//WLF is a Canadian based blog focusing on illustration, photography, design, music, street art and fashion. There are many blogs around of this very nature (including our own), but Building A Wolf has a great ability at decisively hand picking diverse pieces of work from such a huge creative pool.
We featured something they'd blogged about a while back, and you can view their website at www.bldgwlf.com

Rob Tyner - Grande Days

Rob Tyner is best known for being the lead singer of the MC5, a band based in Detroit that were widely known as being the precursor to the Punk movement. In this incredibly rare video he performs 'Grande Days' on his electric autoharp, a song that recounts the MC5's time performing at the infamous Grande Ballroom back in 1960s Detriot.

Q&A With Blood Of The Young

We recently sat down for a virtual cup of tea with two Canadian born photographers and future publishing moguls Dimitri Karakostas and Reilly Hodgson, the co-creators of the Blood Of The Young zine (A Bastard Landlord tumblr favourite).We took some time to talk photography, the cons of online publishing , the stresses of buying smokes on debit and identity theft. I’d tell you more but what with a missing H key on a failing laptop, just creating this brief intro has been fucking ridiculous.

LG : Who are Blood of the Young? (name, age, where your from, what you did before BOTY,) who does what within the BOTY project

TRH: My name is Reilly Hodgson, I'm 23, I live in the suburbs north of Toronto. Before we started BOTY I sang in a bad post-hardcore band and went to University in Vancouver for printmaking and fine arts.

DK: Dimitri Karakostas, 23, Toronto... Before BOTY I skateboarded every single day, all day- except when I would go take photos of Reilly's bad hardcore band before we really 'knew' each other.

TRH: We make limited edition zines and update a blog.

LG: Do you guys have any other Projects outside BOTY

TRH: Blood of the Young has been keeping me pretty busy. We are putting in work on a new bootleg t-shirt line, but I don't want to say too much before it drops. I'm working on a t-shirt design for a white rapper right now too, but that's a different story.

DK: Well, I guess putting out work, whether through BOTY or personally, is a full-time project... that, and bootlegs have been consuming my mind constantly.

LG: How long has BOTY been going?

TRH: Since the winter of 08/09. We put the first website up in January of 09.

LG: How did BOTY get started, what inspired you to start your own zine?
Was it a reaction to the publications which were available or the state of the photography scene?

DK: No reaction on my side... it was just a good way to get to work with lots of dudes I like. I've been doing zines for a long time, I understand it's a niche thing... it's almost too small to really be a scene, as far as i'm concerned. It just exists.

TRH: I've been making zines for quite a while as well so it seemed to make sense. I knew Dimitri from shows and didn't know he made pictures or anything but as soon as I saw his blogspot when I was living in Vancouver I knew I wanted to make something with him. I was just starting to take my photos a little more seriously and the blog was a good way to share things with each other at such a long distance.

LG: How do you decide what work to feature on the site, is it mainly submitted by friends and colleges or do you look further a field?

DK: If I stumble upon a good portfolio, i'll usually post it up... I guess my eye is solely for something interesting or new. There are some cheat codes, though... bad kids and ugly punks usually pass 100%. I'm really sick of pretty girl photos, regardless of who takes it.

TRH: I'm sick of pretty girl photos too. Summer 2011 bring on the inbred mountain babes.

LG : Do you think digital publication is the way forward?

DK: No, not at all. We've done one PDF-exclusive zine and, well, it might as well not exist. I can't hold it, neither can you. I'm sure you can't find it online anymore. I think tangibility is our focus.

TRH: I think it is the way forward if you want to make a publication that someone will look at (maybe) once and then forget about. Tangibility is definitely a big deal for us.

LG : What are your feelings on the state of photography at the moment?

DK: I don't have any feelings... I don't really even care. It's like anything: lots of really bad work, some really good work. Obviously, you can't expect to have 100% amazing work... but I see a lot of photos every day and I rarely get psyched. There are maybe 15 photographers who i'm interested in and deliver consistently.

TRH: I think we're both feeling pretty ambivalent about it. I've been trying to remind myself to stop and take a look through some of the books and zines that got me excited about making work in the first place. Its good to have a reminder sometimes.

LG: Who are some of your favourite photographers?

DK: Patrick O'Dell, Dan Zev, Josh Blank, Angela Boatwright, Andrea Sonnenberg...

TRH: Yeah, those dudes, the Potes brothers, Templeton, McGee, Scott Pommier...

LG: What are some of your favourite magazines/web sites?

DK: http://facebook.com

TRH: *laughter* Someone is trying to steal my identity using the name Rensun Moreau, that profile is my favourite right now. The only magazine subscription I have is to Color magazine, based out of Vancouver. It's the best magazine in Canada and if someone working there sees this they should get in touch with us.

LG: What does the future hold for BOTY?

DK: Hopefully we make a lot of money really soon, i'm really into the idea of not stressing every time I debit a pack of smokes.

TRH: Yeah, lots of money. Lets go with that, I think we deserve it, right? Gotta keep that PMA, haha

Check out Blood Of The Young at www.bloodoftheyoung.tumblr.com

Daniel Meadows' Free Photographic Omnibus

Daniel Meadows studied photography at Manchester Polytechnic with Peter Fraser, Martin Parr, Brian Griffin and Charlie Meecham. In 1973, with the money he’d saved up from working through the summer at Butlin’s and with an Arts Council grant, Meadows set off on a 14 month tour of England in his ‘Free Photographic Omnibus’. It was essentially a Leyland PD1 bus, with the seats having been removed to make way for a darkroom, living quarters and the windows being used as the gallery space.

He has since been in search of the original subjects from the photographs, and has put together a book titled ‘The Bus’, which positions the original photographs next to a contemporary photographs containing the same people.

Meadows is incredibly interested in the individual and doesn’t view society as a ‘mass’. His work gives small windows into different stories, moods, feelings, time periods and cultural information.

You can view a short film on the Free Photographic Omnibus at www.photobus.co.uk and can purchase his book The Bus here.

Ryan Bleyswyck - Surrealism In Photography

Ryan Bleyswyck is depicted in all manners of illogical positions, in his series of self portraits. The work is akin to that of the Surrealists of the 1940s, especially resonating with Salvador Dali and photographer Phillipe Halsman's collaborative work.
Surrealism brought photography into an art form in it's own right, having only previously been thought of as a technique that could replicate real life imagery. Surrealist photography presented the idea that just like painting, ideas, themes and artistic expression could be communicated through the medium.
Bleyswyck has created energy within his work through the composition of objects, deep and diverse lighting techniques and orientation of the overall photograph.
Ryan Bleyswyck graduates from Falmouth University this year. See more of his work on his website.

Polaroid 300

Photographs by Adam O'Connor

In recent years there has been a huge rise in popularity of analogue photographic formats over their digital counterparts. There are two notable examples of this – Lomography and the ever-iconic Polaroid Instant Camera.

As if you don’t know all about it, the Polaroid Instant camera was a single body camera that developed the operators photograph instantly on a piece of photographic paper. It was originally released in the 40’s in film roll format, before turning into pack film format and was initially utilized by policemen, firemen, ultrasound operators, as I.D. cards, passport photos and used by photographers to see if a shot would turn out right before taking their actual 35mm or medium format version. Over time their low-fi , easily accessible and instant effects gained a kitsch appeal, which continued right up until Polaroid disbanded the production of instant film in the face of a digital generation in 2009.

However, in the wake of Polaroid fan’s despair at losing instant photography, Polaroid decided to return to the scene with a brand new design of camera: the Polaroid 300. More than just the camera body has changed since the old instant camera, with the actual images themselves being 2.1” x 3.4” instead of the traditional 4” x 5”.

Amateur photographer Adam O’Connor took a look at the Polaroid 300 for us:

Blotter Art

For as long as popular culture can remember, the use of LSD has been associated with the 1960s, hippies, music, film and art – and these associations can be felt even when it comes to the materials used for taking the drug. Anyone who knows anything of ‘drug cultures’ will know that one of the forms LSD – or ‘acid’ – can be consumed in is ‘tabs’ or ‘blotters’. These are created as large sheets of absorbable paper divided into a perforated grid, which can then be torn off like stamps – or like the packets of peanuts you buy down the pub to reveal the naked beauty beneath them. These small squares of blotting paper would look very unappealing if it weren’t for the psychedelic designs printed on them.

Here is a selection of our favourites, courtesy of the websites: http://www.blotterart.co.uk, http://www.key-z.com/ and http://www2.lib.virginia.edu/exhibits/sixties/list.html

Going Furthur

In 1964 a newly published writer Ken Kesey, along with a band of psychedelic enthusiasts the Merry Pranksters, set off on a road trip in an overthrown school bus. The bus had ‘Furthur’ written on it’s destination placard, a name given to it by Roy Sebern who intended for it to be a one word poem that inspires it’s passengers to keep going whenever the bus might have broken down. It has also been said that ‘Further’ was also the name given to the end goal of the Merry Pranksters – a destination that could only be obtained through the expansion of one’s own perceptions of reality – usually by taking copious amounts of marijuana, amphetamines and LSD.

The bus toured across America from the west to the east, reversing the historic American westward movement of the centuries in an effort to see what would happen when hallucinogenic-inspired spontaneity interjected the everyday actions of American society.

Many renowned counter-cultural figures passed through the bus’ passenger list on it’s few main journeys including, Neal Cassady (major figure of the Beat Generation), Ken Babbs, Wavy Gravy, Paul Krassner and Stewart Brand. Tom Wolfe also spent time travelling on the bus and wrote his “Non-Fiction Novel” The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test based on his experiences.

Ken Kesey’s relationship with hallucinogenic drugs began in 1959 when he took part as a test subject in a CIA financed study of psychoactive drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, cocaine, AMT and DMT. This experience, along with a short stint working in a veterans hospital inspired Kesey to write One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, a novel which was published and then later turned into a film of the same name. Having earned enough money from his novel being published, Kesey moved to La Honda, California where he frequently entertained guests in a series of parties known as Acid Tests. Guests would injest LSD, sometimes without their knowledge and with Kessey’s belief that one’s personal fears should be tested under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs, they would endure the rest of the night. The forest surrounding Kessey’s property would become the testing grounds, with trees painted in day glow colours and music piping out of hidden speakers.

Ken Kessey, the Acid Tests and the bus Furthur have all been regarded as the key link between the Beat Generation and the Hippy Movement, with Kessey’s attitude and Acid Tests being regarded as the initial inspiration behind the 1960s counter-cultural psychedelic attitude.

Monthly Disposables

Monthly Disposables was curated by Eva van ‘t back in 2010 as a collection of photographic work from nineteen different photographers.

Each photographer was given a disposable camera and told to take one photograph each day for a month. The four-hundred and eighty-seven photographic results were then developed, printed and homed in one of two unique hand made boxes.

This interesting and diverse body of work from nineteen different photographers plays with the notions of disposable photography whilst, perhaps paradoxically, preserving it as a lovely D.I.Y package.

The photographers featured in the body of work are: Sjoukje Dijkstra, Jordan Small, Mira Heo, Iris Jans, Hollie Victoria Robson, Meynou Jacobs, Stig de Block, Elies van Renterghem, Tamara Suskic, Alicia Griffiths, Mate Ugrin, Marieke Ruytenburg, Leandra Mele, Nina Zivkovic, Stephanie de Smet, Tom Cops, Simon Nunn and Nina Ahn.

The box can be bought for €25 from http://monthly-disposables.tumblr.com

Tom Cops

Stig de Block

Antonio Carusone

Antonio Carusone is a New York based designer and grid system enthusiast.

He runs AisleOne – an incredibly well known website in the graphic design world and is also part of the Thinking For A Living creative network.

Carusone creates some amazing pieces of cool, considered graphic design that are constantly exploring the age old techniques of grid systems.

Carusone is also a photography enthusiast, and these expansive, grainy, digital examples were taken from his portfolio website http://www.yearofthesheep.com

Pyramid of Capitalism

vintage poster from 1911 printed by the Industrial Worker.

"Under Capitalism, man exploits man. Under Communism, it’s just the opposite" John Kenneth Galbraith

Image from www.prosebeforehos.com

Ravings Of A Film Fanatic: Paranormal Activity 2

Words by Chris Elms

I actually rather enjoyed 2007 / 08’s Paranormal Activity. Sure it was a bit hokey at times, but I thought it was a great, creepy, low-fi horror flick that was a real joy to experience in a cinema full of people. That was the first time I felt like I was in one of those American theatres you see where the crowd really reacts to the film. I didn’t see this inevitable sequel upon its theatrical release, for the simple reason that I didn’t think it looked worth spending £6.50 on. The first one was a solid film, a triumph in low-budget film making and proves you don’t need millions of dollars and CGI to frighten people, it needed a sequel about as much as Schindler’s List (and while I’d like to think of Taken as that film, it isn’t officially regarded as such). Take a look at the Saw franchise: The first film was (as far as I understand) made independently from the studios, by budding film-makers who had a genuinely good idea that they believed in and made a tense and highly entertaining movie the likes of which we hadn’t seen a lot of before, it was a film that stood on its own. It went on to make the studio that bought it a shit-ton of money and so they called for a sequel. Whether the original film-makers wanted to be involved or not, another film was on the way, because the basic principle of Hollywood is sadly, to make as much money as possible. It’s not a coincidence that the writers and directors of both Saw and Paranormal Activity wanted nothing to do with the sequels. With every Saw flick that comes out, that first one loses more and more integrity. That series has become a joke, a cash-cow and as long as people keep paying money to see them, they’ll keep getting made, regardless of quality.

This is exactly what is going to happen to Paranormal Activity. The plots of the Saw films have become so convoluted and excessively complicated I lost all interest after number four. The writers have to keep tacking extra stuff on to the stories to eek every last ounce of life out of what was once a truly good and fairly straight-forward idea. This is probably my biggest problem with Paranormal Activity 2. The story of the first one is pretty simple: a couple (Micah and Katie, who return here) become the targets of some kind of evil spirit. That is pretty much it. Just a man and a woman, who have their lives disrupted by an evil spirit. There’s a brief scene that mentions Katie (played by Katie Featherston) also had similar things happen when she was younger, but that just serves as a little bit of extra intrigue, nothing more. The three new writers behind this sequel (that’s right, THREE different writers, Paramount Pictures take a bow) have basically taken that tiny scene and adapted a huge, grand story arc out of it, and it comes off as stupid, unnecessary and abundantly clear this was never on the agenda when original director Oren Peli penned the first one.

Paranormal Activity 2 is actually a prequel to the first film. The people being terrorised this time turn out to be Katie’s sister Kristi (Sprague Grayden), her husband Daniel (Brian Boland), his sixteen-year-old daughter Ali (Molly Ephraim) and their new-born son Hunter (Some Baby). Similar odd things start happening around the house, and when they return to find the place completely torn apart one day, Daniel installs a number of high-tech CCTV cameras. It’s the footage from these we get to watch every night. And as you can imagine, the occurrences gradually get worse and worse.

Revealing exactly what the writers have done would be spoiling it, but it totally negates the minimalist, less-is-more style of the original. In exactly the same way as Saw (and another example I can think of is the TV show Lost), they add a bunch of extra crap to expand upon what we already have and it just feels fake and silly. As Lost kept going, season after season, everyone knew that all the complicated sub-plots and character twists we were having to keep track of each week were never supposed to exist when it was originally conceived, it’s whatever the writers could come up with to keep the damn thing going, and this film feels exactly the same. It really took me out of the movie.

In the first film, Micah just leaves his camera filming them in their room each night, because he only has the one camera. And that one shot, always in the same position, was really creepy and unnerving. Here we get to see every single room, and it totally looses the suspense and curiosity that that one static shot created before. You’d hear things being moved and thrown around downstairs, but we’d only see the couple sleeping, and when something did finally happen in that room, however miniscule, it was suspenseful and extraordinarily creepy. All of that suspense is now gone, because the cameras cycle from room to room, and as soon as it stays on a particular camera for longer than the rest you know something is about to happen. And in doing so, when it does, it has significantly less impact.

This leads me to the characters in the film. In Paranormal Activity, the couple start noticing strange things, Katie thinks it’s something supernatural while Micah is more sceptical, but being a technology-geek he sets up the camera to record everything anyway. He reviews the previous nights footage almost straight away, and when he sees their sheets move, and the door open and close on its own he’s pretty quickly convinced something serious is going on. Now in Paranormal Activity 2, we have a whole house full of people with strange things going on and 24 hour security cameras recording practically every inch of their home. When a pot drops off a hook in the kitchen on its own, and does so again right after Kristi replaces it (with her still in the room) you’d think they’d have a look at the CCTV footage right? Wrong. This really pissed me off as a viewer. I don’t care how sceptical you are about the existence of ghosts, if your wife says she put the pot on the hook and there was no way it could have fallen off on its own, you would look at the fucking cameras. What the hell have you got to lose? I can even buy into believing that a character like Daniel is so narrow-minded that he wouldn’t check the footage, but the other two chicks don’t either, and they’re pretty sure they’re being haunted from almost the start. If I thought a kitchen utensil moved on its own - and I knew it was on tape - I would be on that computer reviewing the footage faster than you could say ‘Poltergeist’. The footage is right there, fucking look at it already. They just don’t bother, and I found that unacceptable. Sure they do eventually, but that ain’t the point. If I’m to believe that these are real people they need to act like real people.

This film also suffers from the typical sequel trappings of everything being amped up this time around. Where we once had one camera in one room, we now have a whole mess of cameras in every single room. Where we had a man and a woman, we now have a man, woman, teenage daughter, baby and a dog. As you can imagine, the titular paranormal activity of the ghost is amplified too. Where the first flick succeeded was with its wonderful use of restraint. A faint shadow appearing in the bedroom or the door moving an inch was horribly unnerving. Now the ghost is locking them out of the house and picking the baby up out his crib. I will say a couple of the sequences are still pretty cool (a scene where every cupboard in the kitchen opens all at once was great), but they’re few and far between.

Aint it Cool NewsMassawrym said “The PARANORMAL ACTIVITY series is nothing more than a cinematic supernatural WHERE’S WALDO.” (http://www.aintitcool.com/node/47160) And that is certainly true of number one. Thing is, I quite enjoyed searching around the screen for the tiniest of movements. This time I just sat there and waited because I knew something was coming, and it’d be abundantly clear when it did. The effect isn’t the same anymore. In upping the ante, they’ve lost what made the first flick really good.

And that’s about it really. The films best moment comes when we see Katie Featherston’s amazing jugs in a bikini, and I’m not kidding. The characters are so moronic in not looking at the footage that when they begin getting hurt I couldn’t have cared less. The whole ‘expanded story’ thing (that of course we’re supposed to believe was always present in the first one) builds to a climax in the third act that didn’t feel remotely authentic and left me disheartened that another original indie flick has now become another soul-less, dull franchise, appealing to stupid people and studio executive’s bank accounts alike.

38 Degrees

Words by Lee Galacher

Photographs by Joey Dean

38 Degrees drummed up a huge ground swell of support during a campaign to save the UK’s forests from being sold off. With an online petition signed by over 500,000 people 38 degrees helped force the government to reverse plans to sell of nationally owned forestry to private companies.

38 Degrees uses the internet and social media to make it easy and effective for people to take action against government policy and hold Politian’s accountable for the consequences of their decisions.

The Save Our Forests Campaign launched on the 28th of October 2010, the day the plan government plans to sell of our forestry was announced.

In the time between the save our forest campaign gained huge support, with the 38 Degrees website claiming that;

  • Over 500,000 38 Degrees members signed the “Save Our Forests” petition
  • Over 100,000 38 Degrees members emailed or called their MPs urging them to stop the forest sell off
  • Hundreds of 38 Degrees members donated to fund a people-powered YouGov poll which found that 84% of the public wanted the forests kept in public hands
  • Thousands of 38 Degrees members chipped in nearly £60,000 to pay for ads in national newspapers to highlight that 84% of the British public opposed the forest sale.
  • Over 30 local groups around the country sprung up to campaign to stop the sell-off
  • Over 220,000 38 Degrees members shared the campaign on Facebook

Growing up in Norfolk, I’ve had the opportunity as a child to experience the fantastic forest which surrounds my hometown to think that in future this may have been denied to children of Thetford without the dedication of groups such as 38 degrees would have been truly unbelievable as Thetford forest is a massive part of the town’s identity.

In comparison to the student riots that took place in the capital, which unsuccessfully attempted to reverse the tuition fees decision, the online digital protest by 38 degrees created news in a much more positive way. With so much of our lives digitalised nowadays why wouldn’t our right to protest become just another part of the digital landscape? While we were bombarded with images of the people on the streets participating in the student protest, it remained unsuccessful while the quiet, civilised and relatively peaceful 38 degrees campaign did manage to reverse the government’s decision.

Visit the 38 Degrees website to aid their campaign action.