Insights rarely occur fully baked

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In Perennial Seller, Ryan Holiday asks Scott Barry Kaufman, a leading psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on creativity, about how ideas happen. He says: “Insights rarely occur fully baked. The creative process is often nonlinear, with many detours along the way that inform the final product. The creator often starts with a hazy intuition of where he or she is going, but breakthrough innovations rarely resemble the seed idea or vision. This is because creative ideas, by their very nature, evolve over time, reflecting the colliding of seemingly disparate ideas.”

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My ideas rarely appear fully-formed. I hope for successful images but never go out seeking them. It’s important that I remain open to outside influence while I’m taking photographs because I like to experiment and work with what’s available.

As Kaufman says, “the best we can do is sit down and create something, anything, and let the process organically unfold.” 

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Fawley Power Station

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Located about ten miles away from where I grew up, is Fawley Power Station. No longer in service, this oil-fired power station employed more than 700 people at its peak. It’s huge chimney dominates the local landscape and can be seen for miles.

Commissioned in the late 1960’s, Fawley began generating electricity in 1972 and stands testament to Britain’s era of nationalised industries. It’s ambitious design included a number of distinctive and unique architectural features such as the flying-saucer-shaped control building and the zig-zag glass cladding on the outside of the boiler house.

Underneath Southampton Water, a two-mile-long tunnel was dug, mostly by hand, to house the high voltage electricity cables, negating the need for pylons. The tunnel was ten feet wide and a small electric railway was installed to carry away excavated dirt. The Irish and Scottish mining crews were paid piecework depending on their output, working long shifts to make as much progress as possible and thereby increase their wages. Their work was difficult and fraught with risk. Miners used decompression tanks before entering which adjusted them to tolerate the high-pressures beneath the seabed. If injured, no miner could go straight to hospital as decompression had to take place, lasting about three quarters of an hour. Sadly there were fatalities. One miner fell in the shaft and another accident was said to have involved an improperly closed airlock.

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Unfortunately, Fawley went online just before the 1970s oil crisis, was deemed too expensive to run and was never used to full capacity as a result. Since closing in 2013, it’s become all the more alluring, especially for television and film crews who come for its retro interior monitors, buttons and dials. Currently, its fate hangs in the balance as plans are afoot to transform it into a “residential and commercial waterside community.”

It’s funny that I associate such an industrial building with comforting feelings of home. I’d miss the looming presence of its tower if it was demolished, although I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it belching black smoke. These photographs were taken on a recent visit. I’m glad I’ve gotten the chance to shoot it, before the Fawley I grew up with is gone.

For more images, go to my Flickr.

Sources of information include C20 Society, Ian West and Power Stations of the UK.

Welcome to Lumberton

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via FilmGrab

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.

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via Film Grab
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via Film Grab

Massive props to FilmGrab for the images.

 

Feeling from Mountain and Water

Feeling from Mountain and Water is a beautiful Chinese animated short film produced in 1988 by Shanghai Animation Film Studio under master animator Te Wei.

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.

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© Qi Baishi

This is just a taste of Te Wei’s work. For a more in-depth review, check out Wonders in the Dark.

 

Unconcerned Photographs

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Unconcerned Photograph © Man Ray

Man Ray’s Unconcerned Photographs are a series of images he created in 1959 for MoMA’s The Sense of Abstraction exhibition. 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.”

– Man Ray

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Unconcerned Photograph © Man Ray 
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Unconcerned Photographs © Man Ray

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, coined Rayographs, 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.