Wednesday, December 17, 2008

If life is an illusion it's a pretty painful one. (M.H.)


If I read fiction I prefer French authors for their philosophical references, wit and dash of misanthropy. Michel Houellebecq's work is my latest find. Started with The Possibility of an Island and got instantly hooked up. Michel Houellebecq sees world as it really is, the place where the blind leading the blind. It's hard not to agree with many of his observations expressed through his character's inner monologs. Like:
"Without beauty a girl is unhappy because she has missed her chance to be loved. People do not jeer at her, they are not cruel to her, but it is as if she were invisible, no eyes follow her as she walks. People feel uncomfortable when they are with her. They find it easier to ignore her. A girl who is exceptionally beautiful, on the other hand, who has something which too far surpasses the customary seductive freshness of adolescence, appears somehow unreal. Great beauty seems invariably to portend some tragic fate." (Michel Houellebecq, Les particules elémentaires)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Language of the Grain



Lately I enjoying finds of work by Japanese photographer Daidō Moriyama (森山大道). It's total opposite to slick look of today's digital look. The man can produce wonderful images of any place in the world he goes.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Japanese minimal architecture


While not much old and traditional buildings remains in Japanese cities, the new ones bears distinct Japanese passion for things small and compact. Some buildings are amazing manifestation creativity and engineering, but here are plenty simple dwellings of impressive smallnes.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Kisho Kurokawa's Nakagin Capsule Tower


Spent a day just to locate Kisho Kurokawa's Nakagin Capsule Tower in the Ginza area of Tokyo. Originally designed as a Capsule Hotel to provide economical housing for businessmen working or drinking late. The one-man-room capsule, a modified (4 x 2.5 meter) shipping container, has a circular window, a built-in bed and bathroom unit, and is complete with TV, radio and alarm clock. The capsule interior was pre-assembled in a factory then hoisted by crane and fastened to the concrete core shaft. Kurokawa's design theory was to replace the capsules when needed, but the building has not been maintained in 33 years which has caused drainage and water pipes to be damaged.
The international heritage protection group Docomomo, have unsuccessfully pleaded for the United Nations' heritage arm to protect this landmark building.

Monday, October 20, 2008

This Rugged Land


I and my friend Saulius did a weekend road trip to Pennsylvania. Our main destination was small town Ehrenfeld in coal-mining area of Scooptown not too far Pittsburgh. Birth place of Charles Bronson (born Charles Dennis Buchinsky, Lithuanian name Karolis Bučinskis). He was the 11th of 15 children born to a Lithuanian Tatar immigrant father and a Lithuanian-American mother. His father was from the Lithuanian town of Druskininkai.
Charles Bronson known for "tough guy" roles who starred in such classic films as Once Upon a Time in the West, The Magnificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen, The Great Escape and the Death Wish series.
We expected to find depressed mining town, but instead we saw very well kept pleasant place set in beautiful fall forest collors. Some mines got reopened lately, jobs coming back.
We met old time Ehrenfeld resident here, who owns local convenience store. He told us many stories about Charles young days here. Stuff like starting fights and letting others to finish them, knocking down outhouses and other innocent pranks. Local people have a bit of resentment at Charles Bronson for not doing anything good for town, beyond being only one famous person who was born here.



Tuesday, September 30, 2008

James Nachtwey Breaking a New story





James Nachtwey breaking a news story in a way that demonstrates the power of news photography in the digital age. On October 3, his work will be simultaneously revealed online, disseminated through numerous media channels, and projected on monuments and public buildings throughout the world.



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Learn Some Warao.


The Warao are an indigenous people inhabiting northeastern Venezuela and western Guyana and Suriname. The term Warao translates as "the boat people," after the Warao's lifelong and intimate connection to the water. Most of the approximately 20,000 Warao inhabit Venezuela's Orinoco Delta region.

Man - nibura
Woman - sire, iboma
Father - dima
Mother - dani
Baby - sanufida
River - ho
Food - nahoro
Good aftenoon -zakraokanaka
Boat - guibaka
Monkey - Naku
Bird - koro
Gringo - xolroko
Rain - Naha
Crocodile -puludulu
Bird - koro
Dangerous - xavaniraxa
Tomorrow - xaki
Water - -xo
Jungle - dnikija kukotani
Night -diaanai
Sun - hokoi
Dog - bexoro
Cat -misi
Mosquito -kuxoboto
Snake - tuba
Thank you - zakira

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Empty Barrels


Some actors, the older they get the better they are, but some just become screaming parodies of themselves.

Friday, September 12, 2008

No Excuses Not to Make Films


Many the best movies in film history was made by talented and driven people who had insatiable urge to create and express themselves in the language of moving image. They had no excuses not to make films. Movies were made without bloated crews by group of friends. If they needed equipment they stole it. Films were made on real locations without permissions, with plenty creativity and passion instead of special effects.
Today, despite affordable digital technology we live in not a very creative and visually sophisticated time. Something was lost or pushed aside. It's not bad or good, just a fact we need to deal. Pencil and sheet paper was available for ages, but worthy masters of word can be easily counted. May be we just learning a new language, may be we are a little disoriented, and intoxicated by mass culture.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Forgeries

15 sec trailer made to promote my friend's Ray Bartkus art show "Forgeries" in Vilnius, Lithuania.
video

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A New David Byrne and Brian Eno Album

One of my favorite records of a all times is My Life in the Bush of Ghostsby David Byrne and Brian Eno released in 1981. Bush of Ghosts was very unique and revolutionary album for this time. Filled with various percussive and voice samples, wild tribal drumming and innovative use of electronic recording techniques set benchmark for a new kind of sound as much as Blade Runner set for film making.
Almost 30 years late Brian and David produced new set of 11 songs called Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. "The foundations of some of the tracks are much like those of traditional folk, country, or gospel songs before these styles became harmonically sophisticated. Brian's chord structures were unlike anything I would have chosen myself, so I was pushed in a new direction, asked to face the unfamiliar, and this, of course, was a good thing. The challenge was more emotional than technical: to write simple, heartfelt tunes without drawing on cliché. The results, in many cases, are uplifting, hopeful, and positive, even though some lyrics describe cars exploding, war, and similarly dark scenarios." - writes David Byrne.
The album is available exclusively from Web site. You can stream all of the songs for free and purchase it in a variety of digital and physical formats, including a limited edition Deluxe Package designed by Sagmeister Inc. One of the songs, “Strange Overtones”, is available for free download via everythingthathappens.com

Friday, July 25, 2008

Different God


American hotels/motels known for ever present Holy Bible on night stand. I'm not sure what the reason to have Word of God in the rented room. May be to make drifters guilty for sins done at musty motels, o to help to have last dialog with the god before one writes last note. Bible in the motel room plain creepy and disturbing. It was pleasant surprise to find "Teaching of Buddha" instead in one of California's motels. I didn't spent night reading, but bright orange cover of the book cheers up the room.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia


I was always telling that Golden Age of American film making was in 70s, and most likely never will be surpassed. I'm completely ignoring cinemas lately, just because I don't want to feel cheated by half cooked products of recent film industry.
As The Guardian blogger Jonathan Jones rightly points in his recent post: "What these films lack, in comparison to the golden age of American cinema, is ... well, pretty much everything that matters. Their morality is shop-bought: it doesn't feel like it was worked out on the streets. Most of all there isn't the sense of life, the spontaneity and improvisation, that you get in a truly great film like Robert Altman's McCabe and Mrs Miller. Watching such a film is like encountering a new city, a real living place: it has longueurs, bagginess, loose ends, because these are life. By comparison, the vaunted new masterpieces of American cinema are just not baggy enough. They are only half-alive."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Man Who Can Feel


"Photography isn't looking, it's feeling. If you can't feel what you're looking at, then you're never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures."
British photographer Don McCullin talks about his years spent as a conflict and war reporter. Painfully honest and revealing interview. It's probably what most today's war photographers keep for themselves, it what makes young man's hair get gray.

Unreasonable Behaviour: An Autobiography

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Malaparte: A House Like Me


One of the most beautifully designed, made and written book I encountered in recent years is Malaparte: A House Like Me. Produced with love and passion by visionary architect Michael McDonough book offers an extraordinary look at Italian writer Curzio Malaparte (1898-1957), the man and his house, Casa Malaparte in Capri.

Building designer was true Renaissance man: adventurer, actor, novelist, poet, filmmaker, soldier, playwright, journalist, political figure, prisoner, composer, charmer — inventor and revealer of truths.
Spell bounding black and white photographs of Mimmo Jodice in tune with Mediterranean landscape and spirit of the house. The book makes you come to Capri and experience this unique part of the island for yourself.

Playing the Building


I like old American industrial architecture. If I have chance never pass an opportunity to explore and snap a few pictures. These wonderful buildings disappearing fast. Often is very difficult or too expensive to utilize cavernous spaces for todays needs and they left to crumble or torn down. New York's Public Art organization Creative Time known for utilizing most impressive NYC spaces for art projects before theu gone. This year Battery Maritime Building in lower Manhattan become temporary home and integral part of an installation by David Byrne named Playing the Building. It's relatively low tech analog project what makes it even more unique in digital age. Mechanical devices are attached to the building structure — to the metal beams and pillars, the heating pipes, the water pipes — and are used to make these things produce sound. Old church organ keys are used to trigger motors, mallets and air compressors. The activations are of three types: wind, vibration, striking. The devices do not produce sound themselves, but they cause the building elements to vibrate, resonate and oscillate so that the building itself becomes a very large musical instrument.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Manhattanhenge


Manhattanhenge - a unique urban phenomenon in the world, comes on Thursday, May 29h this year, one of only two occasions when the Sun sets in exact alignment with the Manhattan street grid, fully illuminating every single cross-street for the last fifteen minutes of daylight. The other day is Saturday, July 12th.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Red Wave 2.0

When Soviet Union collapsed in late 80's, during Perestroika Western art market was flooded by Red Wave of contemporary art. It was considered next big thing, collectors swarmed to Eastern Bloc with purses full of escudo. Artists had their 15 minutes of fame, pigged out on caviar and champagne and shortly, vanished to oblivion. I have suspicion that present day fascination with Chinese Art will be short lived as well.


As proof I found good article in Vanity Fair of April 2008, Beijing's Olympic Makeover. Author, William Langewiesche most likely knows the subject well and has ground to have an opinion. Here is the quote, kind of rarely found in the media: "Much is made of Beijing’s rising arts scene and the existence of an unofficial counterculture here — as if such departures from uniformity amount to significant openings for personal expression and creativity. It’s nonsense. The arts are impotent by definition, the counterculture is pretend, and creativity is allowed to flourish only in measure of its irrelevance to power. Ultimately this will prove to be a huge problem for China — larger than pollution or quarrels with Taiwan. As it is today, no one turns to China to learn about anything but China itself."

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss | Raising Sand

My favorite album of the year 2007. Unique and successful blend of distinct Led Zeppelin sound with Nashville's bluegrass sensibility. Every single song is beautiful and well crafted, no fillers. Recorded with love and care. Im sure it will claim it's own place in the music history.

Video version of song "Please Read the Letter"


Friday, May 09, 2008

Wristcutters: A Love Story


Everything I told about "My Blueberry Nights" is opposite when I talk about Croatian director's Goran Dukic first feature length film, "Wristcutters: A Love Story". Recent discovery, joy and fresh gulp of fun. Movie makes you pee to the pants from laugh. It's a true road movie set in "hot as balls" desert environment of parallel universe inhabited by victim's of suicide and accidental death. There no aggression and screaming here, no smiles either. Plenty of beer and gas probably for free. Superb music by Russian Gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello from NY serves as the sonic background in the car of Eugene (Shea Whigham), character based on real life lead of this musical combo, Eugene Hütz. The passengers Zia (Patrick Fugit), Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon) cuddly and lovable in search for something to make their lives have meaning again. Trio makes a pit stop at Kneller's (Tom Waits) Happy Campers community of retired corpses. Of course this a happy end story.

Blueberry? No, More Like a Bad Apple


I had suspicion that Wong Kar Wai's movie My Blueberry Nights will be disappointment, so it took a while to force myself and watch this Hong Kong based directors American debut. Haven't seen such a bad movie in a long time. Nothing works here. Stiff dead dialogs, bad acting and overacting, disconnected and lifeless music. Not a single character I would care or like. Cinematographer Darius Khondji obviously was trying to imitate Christopher Doyle's camera handling style instead of using his own visual language.
Hong Kong made movies which made Wong Kar Wai famous was lacking depth and lasting life, but at least they was something what was joy to watch. Like recent novelty Asian art type work what westerners like. They definitely had mood and feel of well rounded films and looked great thanks to daring and innovative cinematography of Christopher Doyle.
My Blueberry Nights was marketed as road movie, but it's more like smelly diner movie. Not sure what to blame here, dark Wong Kar Wai's shades, bloated american movie making system restrained by union rules or pop singer's attempt to act. Result is bad, uneatable piece of pie, not even a movie. It was a flop, and sunk to obscurity as soon it was released.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Among the Best


I have made to a Photo Editor (APE) Rob Haggart's ILikeThesePhotos list. This is a free promo that’s meant to supplement all the other ways photo editors find photographers to hire. List consist from 297 photographers selected by Rob from number of flickr group submissions.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

National Geographic Road Atlas

I have used National Geographic Road Atlas on my American South West and cross country road trips in 1997 and 1998.
I liked clarity of print and accurate placement of roads, attractions, unique nature places and camping gounds. Used it to srhreds, time for the latest (2004) edition for the upcoming road trip.

National Geographic Road Atlas - Adventure Edition

Friday, March 28, 2008

10 Favorite Photographers

1. Henri Cartier-Bresson


2. Alex Webb


3. Steve Mccurry


4. Antanas Sutkus


5. James Nachtwey


6. Anton Corbijn


7. William Eggleston


8. Terry Richardson


9. Nobuyoshi Araki


10. David Bailey

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rumble in the Jungle

My response to recent attacks against jungle guide and naturalist Richard Fowler and herbalist Alan Shoemaker who live and work in Iquitos, Peru. Someone waging a very primitive and dirty campaign against them.

At Jungle camp.

I have spent 2 weeks in 2004 with Richard in Jungle. I would do it again in a blink of eye. It’s actually only guide in Peru I would trust. This is very competitive trade, somebody trying to smear his reputation and ruin his business. To get an idea what Richard have to offer, one should read book “Trail of Feathers” by Tahir Shah. Author put dedication on the first page: “To Richard for keeping his promises”. This was after first trip with Richard. Bigger and more interesting part in the book was about Richard. If no Richard book would be weak. Tahir paid peanuts for the boat and Richard’s service. Second trip with film crew went sour because they refused pay what promised. Tahir is good writer, but he is a real blue blooded prince. As we all know, princes are spoiled and like to boss around. Rich people always feel that they entitled to service without paying. I’m on the Richard’s side on this. I found Richard after reading this book, so far it was the best trip I ever had.

Richard with his friend Ramon - tribal leader, shaman and healer. Richard proudly displaying skin of previously unknown Giant Jungle Bat he just discovered.

You should be realistic with your expectations, Amazon expedition is nothing like trip to local zoo or park, and you will be dealing with seasoned Vietnam veteran. He is not a summer camp boy scout leader. He is real human being. And some of them likes to drink beer, tell stories and entertain the way they know. I slept like baby in the jungle just because Richard was around. Richard HIGHLY RESPECTED PERSON in remote villages and he works with the BEST and HONEST people. He is welcome guest to any house.


Richard with local Jungle guides Fernando and Meyaer.

Our expedition waiting for the boat.

I met Alan Shoemaker as well, very nice guy who works in Shamanic/spiritual tourism field. Intelligent, helpful and honest person. His house is wide open for everyone. He will help and advice. Just because Alan & Richard and their charming spouses I would like to visit Iquitos again.
In a whole story just follow the money trail. Not too many tourists in Iquitos, but a lot scoundrels after their money. For them its easy money. A lot lodges build around which sell prepackaged tours. Shamanic rituals for thousands of $$$! Just walk in the street in Iquitos, dozens self appointed guides ready to take you for the ride. It’s easy to spread rumors about competitors and harm their business. “They are foreigners strange, alien, not like us. They have all the money anyway, they taking our jobs” Sounds familiar? “I’m good, they are bad. Give me $100.00!”

Richard making American style popcorn for children.


To Gringos. This is A JUNGLE, my friend. THIS IS SOUTH AMERICA. Not a picket fenced community with $ 5.00 morning coffee and 401k plan. Have you noticed that a lot of people even has no shoes here? Have you seen mangy dogs dragging their spilled guts on the street? Do you know that a lot of children not live to reach their fifth birthday. The ones ho live are infected with parasites and lice.
Do you know that porters who cary you bags abandoned their little gardens and hunting just to please you and earn a couple bucks, while their families waiting hungry. You leave generous tip in sushi bar at home, but here you don’t feel like doing it. Do you know how difficult life for ex-pats here? Try to live here. How long you will last. You came back in one piece and be thankful. Next time go to Disneyland or Las Vegas, Basta!


P.S.: Anyone considering to hire Richard as a jungle guide, please bring him a bunch of Punch Maduro cigars. He likes to smoke more than anything. Not a crack, cigars.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Iceman Breaks the Ice

Stopped by to take a look at the attempt to break Guinness World Record of sitting in ice. Tantric master Wim (Iceman) Hof was submerged in 1,550 pounds of ice outside Rubin Museum of Art on West 17th street. He managed to remain in it for 71 minutes and improved his own record. Very impressive, ice cold baths for more than 20 minutes would be lethal for untrained person. He was quite happy to get out of pile of ice cubes, looked good and healthy. Just like out of sauna.

Friday, January 18, 2008

SWEET!


Most advertising in US is boring and predictable. In rare cases ad hits right strings. Like recent JOE'S Jeans campaign.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dell at the Apple store

I have spotted Dell store guys checking some videos at the Apple store.
They were totally sucked in.