Last night I watched Blue Velvet and found myself noticing the in-between moments like the guy that Jeffrey passes on the street, while walking to Detective John Williams’ house, that’s just kind of standing there with his dog. It’s a great movie, beautifully shot, and the attention to detail is insane.
Another film I absolutely love that has a really offbeat vibe is Fargo. The bizarre events, odd characters and dark humour; I don’t know if the Coen brothers are inspired by David Lynch at all but it seems like they were with that movie.
In 1964, as Chairman Mao was preparing for the Cultural Revolution, Te Wei was placed in solitary confinement for a year. To keep his spirits up, he would sketch on the glass pane of a table, erasing his drawings whenever he heard a guard approaching. After returning to the studio in 1975, he produced some of his most acclaimed, experimental work.
Feeling from Mountain and Water uses Shan shui painting style, a brush and ink technique originating in 5th century China. Te Wei was influenced by the painter, Qi Baishi who used heavy ink, bright colours and vigorous strokes to express his love of nature and life.
Man Ray’s Unconcerned Photographs are a series of images he created in 1959 for MoMA’s The Senseof Abstractionexhibition. Made in his Paris studio by swinging a Polaroid camera around on its strap, they epitomise his spontaneous, experimental approach.
“I deliberately dodged all the rules, I mixed the most insane products together, I used film way past its use – by date, I committed heinous crimes against chemistry and photography, and you can’t see any of it.”
While messing about in his darkroom in 1922, Ray accidentally created a photogram by placing a small glass funnel, graduate and thermometer on wet photographic paper. He elaborates in his autobiography, “I turned on the light; before my eyes an image began to form, not quite a simple silhouette of the objects as in a straight photograph, but distorted and refracted by the glass more or less in contact with the paper and standing out against a black background, the part directly exposed to the light.”
His camera-less photographs, coinedRayographs, seemed to remove all traces of the artist’s hand, while incorporating negative space and shadow, randomness and chance.
Now seen in galleries around the world, Ray’s radical photographic experiments firmly established him as a Surrealist, pushed the boundaries and turned traditional art-making on its head.
Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a day job. That instead of going to work in a library most days, I could devote all my time to writing and taking pictures.
Then I remember all of the odd, inspiring events that happen while I’m at work, like the kids who think our automatic doors are magic because they open by themselves, the photographs I find slipped between the pages of returned books and the interesting conversations.
My job connects me to life and feeds into my art in unexpected ways. I mine these events, storing them for later. Thinking like this keeps me sane on the trying days, days when I have to deal with difficult customers or under-staffing.
So really, it’s not so bad, I’d miss, all this, if it wasn’t for the day job.