Archive for January, 2009

The Constant Eye, Vol.1 – Now Available

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Yes, the great day has come. A smiling UPS man arrived this morning and dropped off the first copy of The Constant Eye, Vol.1 hot off the press from Blurb.
After all the waiting I have to say I’m pleased with it! If you want to get your hands on one right away go straight to the Blurb site and sign up. I have to say they don’t seem to have updated their exchange rates recently…
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the book, and don’t forget to comment on the pictures on the book’s website.

The new book

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

This is getting frustrating! I ordered the proof version of my book The Constant Eye, Vol.1 from Blurb way back before Christmas – 11th December to be exact. It was shipped on 22nd December and since then – nothing.
I did chose the cheapest shipping option, which was incredibly cheap, and was untrackable, but even so. It was supposed to be here within 15 working days, latest. It isn’t.
To Blurb’s credit, once I emailed them and explained the problem they ordered me a new one at no cost and placed it on priority delivery, but it’ll still be 2 weeks before I see it, and before I can approve the book to be sold to anyone else. Somewhat annoying.

The V&A photography gallery

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

I visited the small photography gallery in the Victoria & Albert Museum a couple of weeks ago, and something’s been troubling me ever since. Many photographers complain that to get photos exhibited these days you have to print very large, in colour and, preferably, be ‘conceptual’. This is true, but then most gallerists have always followed fashion.

The V&A – which is not a contemporary photo gallery but a museum – currently has only a very small room for photography, but fully half of the pictures were less than 10 years old and (you guessed it) printed very large, in colour, and were conceptual.

Whether you like this type of work is, of course, a subjective matter – personally I can think of no other art form that, so soon after it’s creation, has concentrated so hard on making itself mundane – but surely the balance is wrong? Is the collection really so lacking in good pictures from the previous 150 years?

San Antoni Abad

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

I’m used to St Francis being the patron saint of animals, but around here it’s St Antony. For the last two days most towns have been carrying out blessings of animals. The animals in question are largely pets, dogs being the most frequent recipients of the scared sprinkle, but all manner of little critters are offered up.
Yesterday I was in Alcoy and this morning in Benissa taking pictures. Horse, rabbit, donkey, tortoise, budgerigar, cat, you name it – I’ve knelt or trodden in just about every type of excrement imaginable in the last two days.
I’m hoping the resulting pictures will become part of an ongoing project, or perhaps ‘theme’ would be a better way of putting it, about the relationship between people and animals.

Zimbabwe

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

I’ve been working on a long term project – one of those that doesn’t have an end in sight yet – about political prisons. This covers places of detention, and often torture and execution, where the victims were not criminals but had simply upset their government. Or, in some cases, another government.

Small Fortress, Terezin, Czech Republic. November 2003.

Small Fortress, Terezin, Czech Republic. November 2003. Solitary confinement block.

The problem with continuing this project is that such places are quite hard to find – at any rate those that haven’t been turned into Theme Parks. If they’re still functioning the operators don’t want anyone to know – they know what they are doing is shameful and try to hide it – and when they cease to be of use the operators destroy them if they can, for the same reason. Do you think Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo will be allowed to stand around as a reminder?

The prisons that remain to be seen are those that were extant when the regime that built them fell, such as the Orwellian German Democratic Republic, or was defeated, such as the Third Reich.

I visited the old STASI prison at Hohenschönhausen in Berlin last month – a memorable location and well worth a visit (pictures soon). The surprise of this place was the mundanity of it. The patterned vinyl flooring (the same as the kitchen of a flat I used to live in!), the striped wallpaper. It was like a Cold War era East-Block hotel, but with heavy steel doors and a highly effective alarm system. As if someone had decided, back in the 70s, to “cheer the place up a bit”.

The Small Fortess, Terezin, Czech Republic. November 2003. One of the small prison cells. The Gestapo held up to seventy men in each of these rooms.

The Small Fortess, Terezin, Czech Republic. November 2003. One of the small prison cells. The Gestapo held up to seventy men in each of these rooms.

Sadly such places are by no means history – which brings me to the point of this post! I can’t see even a contrite new US administration allowing me to see the facilities at Guantanamo when they are closed, but the regime of Robert Mugabe surely cannot last more than a few months, and the thousands of people he has held illegally will be released. There will be an opportunity to record the conditions under which they were held. I hope it happens soon, and I can get to Zimbabwe to document it.

The people who suffer in these places deserve at least that much.

It had to happen

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

So, I’ve finally switched the old – and frequently complained about – ‘words’ pages on the website into a shiny new 21st century blog!

I’ve been working on the website for my new book The Constant Eye, Vol.1 and realised the best way to do what I wanted was with WordPress, so got it downloaded. They say it’s easy to set up and, well, they’re right. It’s magic! I’ve even got it looking the way I wanted. Well, almost. So the next step was to use the same system for my own website, and you’re reading the fruits of a few hours labour.

Hope you enjoy the blog – check back soon to read the next thrilling instalment, and use the RSS links on the right to remain updated.