Product Placement vs. A Moment In Time

Here’s something I’m ready and happy to admit: I can’t take a good photo. Just like someone who doesn’t waste away hours of the little free time they have blogging and reading may cobble together a sentence that takes your breath away, I have occasionally accidently captured a moment in time that makes for an aesthetically pleasing photograph but as a professional, I would suck. Various friends and housemates of mine work in the film, design and photography business; I can’t count the amount of conversations I’ve had surrounding the question: what makes a good photograph?

Commercial photos of products do nothing for me. Not only do I not take any joy in observing the photograph but also I can’t think of a time that a photograph of a product alone willed me to buy. Taking, as an example, a photo taken by friend and professional photographer David Wilman.

So, I can see why the products are laid out thus. The shapes of the bottles compliment each other, the product names are visible and the background creates a sense of calm that allows the consumer to feel a sense pleasantry while viewing the products. I couldn’t take a photo like this, I couldn’t even begin to think about how and it’s just all too much for me. The bottles are too perfectly placed. The colours are too complimentary. It’s clear why the photographer set up the scene this way, to please the client, to tick the boxes. Alas, it doesn’t paint 1,000 words but just three: consume, consume, consume.

Reversing all this; I would now like to share with you a photo, also by David Wilman that made me say ‘Stop! Go back! I like that.’

A perfect example of a moment in time: candid, improvised, real life. The differences are obvious. Firstly the contrast between the content: people not product. Outdoors not set in a studio. It takes still, a keen eye, a quick shot to capture a scene that’s on the move; after all, time waits for no man (or camera.) I figure the real test of heart behind a photograph is if it could tell an infinite number of stories. The Little Red Joggers are child convicts, they’re on their sports day or they’re living in a dystopian future in which they’re training to become level one a citizen.

Distinguishing between different types of photography is something that the general public, photographers, clients, artists all do on a regular basis without even really realising it. In the same way that a talented writer might knock out descriptions for estate agents websites, photographers must also pay the rent.

Draw the distinction, keep the art form alive: capture the stories.

– K for Kandid

For other photography by David Wilman click Here

Revelations in a Cinema and a Poorly Positioned Sofa (Part One)

Reading through the recent Mark Kermode biopic I encounter his description of his first viewing of the exorcist, his favourite film. He describes a transcendent religious experience in which the primal fear and atmosphere of the film elevated his consciousness from chump sitting in chair to a formless being concerned only with its own enlightenment! …yeah, I didn’t get that first time round. In fact once I began to truly reflect on this passage I came to wonder if I had ever experienced that about any film I’ve seen at a cinema. Is my cinema broken? Are the North London theatres that Mr Kermode used to frequent, slipping acid into the popcorn?

The circumstances of my viewing of the exorcist could not have been worse. The only aspect I got right was the hype. Kermode describes the hysteria surrounding the film in the early seventies. The BBC documentaries, the fainting in the aisles, the court cases, the questions in parliament, the protests, the minimalist trailer which portrayed almost nothing of the film, perhaps because the audience just couldn’t handle any of it, and I actually had all of that in the far more intimidating form of my Mother. My parents were always quite liberal when it came to what I watched. My father would occasionally express disapproval and my mother would often avoid my room for fear of what might be on-screen, but very little was denied of me. I think my upbringing can best be described by the following conversation:

“When can I watch The Evil Dead?”

“When you’re eighteen”

“But that’s ten years away!”

“…oh all right”

This was the attitude. The understanding was that if I was old enough to ask for it, I’d probably be alright dealing with. But not the exorcist! The exorcist was the one film I was never allowed to see! This would naturally build up an unhealthy amount of hype in my adolescent mind as it can be clearly proven that denying anyone any kind of experience only builds their insatiable lust for it. Case and point:

“Mum, can I watch Poltergeist?”

“Yeah.”

“Really?!”

“Yeah, why not?”

“Well isn’t it the one you don’t want me to watch?”

“I’ve never heard of it, Paul”

“Oh”

“Are you thinking of the exorcist?”

“Oh yeah.”

“IT’S NOT THE EXORCIST, IS IT?”

“No, it’s poltergeist.”

“Ok. You can watch that.”

“…what else is on?”

Several years later I discovered that poltergeist was an extremely effective haunted house movie, the influence of which can still be felt to this day. But there was no drive, no passion bringing me to see this film. I wanted to see the exorcist. I wanted to see the scariest movie ever made! And I did. I forget my age. It was before Channel 4s top 100 scariest moments in 2003 which we’ll come to later, so I was at least younger than fifteen. It was during the day, I watched it in three different rooms as it progressed (back then the one VCR would play out on channel six in every room of the house and I was often in control of it, so daytime programming would be “Blue Peter, the news, CITV, Countdown, Neighbours, Friday the 13th part V) and I don’t think I was paying much attention. I started in the back room, which is a dining room with uncomfortable seats, poorly placed to watch the old TV in the corner. Here I watched the slow building atmospheric opening scenes which succeeded only in boring me. Around the time Reagan is being examined with state of the art seventies psychological technology which measured sanity by piercing a throbbing jugular, I had moved to the front room which featured the most severe glare from the midday sun you could imagine. Finally the scene with Reagan masturbating with the crucifix and using the smoke-stained voice of Mercedes McCambridge for the first time had me flee to my parents’ bedroom where I watched the rest on their tiny ten inch television. I recall only being unimpressed with the rest of the movie.

This feeling of disappointment and frustration stayed with me for quite some time and when Channel 4’s aforementioned list of scariest moments ever came around I begged for the exorcist not to win. The idea of this movie I was unable to understand wining over my all-time favourites was just too much to bear. Fortunately for me, the shining won, but unfortunately for me, it’s clear I was missing something. It was many years before I discovered the exorcist to be the horror masterpiece it was. It was sometime around 2007, because it was then that I thought enough of it to loan it to an eight year old friend who came to me seeking the best horror I had to offer. Thinking about it I never saw the DVD nor indeed the eight year old friend again….then I bought the special edition, so it didn’t matter so much. Somewhere around this time I must have realised how much was going on in this film; the relentless atmosphere, the chilling quiet and startling noise, the sinister implications of the premise, the overtly horrific destruction of this young girl. So it has to be asked, why did I look at this wonderful piece of horror cinema as an impressionable adolescent and see nothing to like about it? Why did I wait until the DVD was reduced to clear to get a copy of it, when I already had VHS copies of every Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street and even Sleep Away Camp years earlier! Was I just a gore fiend? If so, why wasn’t I wowed by the impressively gory and impressively executed effects in The Exorcist?

So what the hell was moving me at this age? Well here lies the problem. I have no memory of any experience in a cinema like Kermode’s. The first horror film I went to see was Jan De Bont’s severely flawed remake of “the haunting” and I spent most of the film extremely tense about my family’s reaction to the noisy Brummie teenagers sat nearby. The second was 28 weeks later, (that’s right “weeks”, I missed out on the classic) which was marred by worrying about my then girlfriend’s reaction to the stupid screaming teenage girls behind us. Of course I subsequently learned that she hated horror movies and only ever saw them to humour me, so I’m sure the teenagers where the least of her problems. Is this the key? Was I too affected by the disruptive tendencies of my fellow audience members to ever actually enjoy any of these films?

The first film I ever saw at the cinema was Aladdin, of which the only enduring memory is the scene where Aladdin is in the desert with a huge tower rolling towards him, and he cunningly positions himself in just the right position for the window of the tower to roll over him. This was of course originally a Buster Keaton routine, so at least I had some taste in my infancy. Did it change my life and affect my adult self? I hope not because thinking about it, the tower was probably CG. My childhood was largely filled with popcorn action flicks like batman forever and Godzilla, and overly sentimental Disney movies like the Lion King and Toy Story. So where’s my big emotional breakthrough? The film that got me hooked and made me a cinema lover forever?

Well at the tender age of twelve we went to go see A.I, the Kubrick intended, Spielberg re-imagining of Pinocchio. This is the earliest example I can think of where I cried at a movie. Or at least forced back tears so that my sister wouldn’t see. But ultimately, this was Spielberg, and Spielberg was the master of forcing tears out of the audience with some highly clichéd plot tactics that tend to invoke strong initial reactions without really changing lives. The mother dies, the father goes away…to space, the best friend moves away… to space and all the little CG dinosaurs got eaten by the big puppet dinosaur. Boo hoo! None of this represents the real emotional sucker punch that Kermode endured in the Exorcist. Perhaps Robopocalypse will for future generations, who knows. The absolute earliest that I remember being completely floored in the cinema, was The Return of the King. I was adolescent, I broke into tears at just about all fifteen of the movie’s endings, and it made the grievous injury my grandmother had suffered to her hip in my absence a lot harder to concentrate on when I got home. So it ticks all the right boxes.

So it’s Return of the King that will have to occupy this special place in my heart. Only it doesn’t. It doesn’t because it had already happened to me before, several months earlier and in a much more discernible way. But it didn’t happen in a cinema…

P for part 2 soon!

The X Factor Vs The General Election

I read somewhere a while ago that more people voted in the last X factor final, than in the general election.

Why is that?

This year has seen the most contraversial of both. People are currently talking about: Gamu gate, Wagner, Katie Waissel/Katie Vogel (whoever she really is), Cher turning into Cheryl, the list goes on…and on…and on….

During the election people were talking about: oh who remembers!

THIS is why. No one remembers the election! It’s all boring reporters in front of un-convincing backdroups of London and digital excel graphs. (NB: I personally LOVE the graphics during the election, but i’m guessing most people don’t.) MY suggestion is, the candidates should have to SING, with backing dancers, being berated by Simon Cowell before the election. THEN people would vote.

What’s that Cameron? Forgot about Korea? Too busy running out to by the X-Factor magazine? Who can blame you? Which would you rather worry about? Nuclear war or wether or not Matt Cardle is dating Grace Woodwood?

Personally, I’ve never voted in the X factor, i’m not gonna lie, I HAVE voted in reality television, but I think that’s ok, cause since turning 18 I’ve voted in every possible election, so it balances out. There’s another idea, if you vote in the election you get a FREE vote on the next X Factor final, then maybe we’d top it.

In 2 weeks it’s this year’s finale, I can’t wait to see if the votes top the election or not. Come on Blighty, please don’t let us down.

The Truth about University

You may have just finished your A-levels and want to put off having to deal with the real world for another few years. Maybe you’ve been working a shitty monotonous job for the past twenty years and want to change track. Maybe you’re nineteen years old and just woke up in a bale of hay in holland with three other stoners and realise you need to catch the next tugboat back to blighty and try to do something to justify your existence to your parents who have been financing your drug filled, beer soaked gap year for the last three years. If so, welcome back to the internet. It has boobs you know!

So you look through some prospectuseseses and realise that only very attractive white people seem to go to university these days! All casually posing on a lawn, sometimes with their lecturer, all laughing, all the time, jokes that only work when said wearing a t-shirt and sporting a trendy t-shirt and sportier underwear and even sportier beliefs. You’ll see high tech equipment in a classical setting and delight in the contrast! “It’s like Iron man in the mont saint-michel!”, you’ll think, annoyingly. And finally you’ll see some diverse people wearing bright robes and throwing hats in the air and think “THAT COULD BE ME! I could improve my throwing skills in three years, easy”. You fill in your name, address, financial information, penis size, mothers maiden name, date of virginity loss (02/10/06) and how many pitchers you can take before loosing your underwear to a thirty year old business student named Asir.  Send it off, get asked to name two non-family members who can testify that you’re not a total wanker.

So you sign up…fail, and get into another place through clearing, always. You’ll go along and meet fellow escapists and learn fascinating things (assuming you didn’t study maths), wander around campus and think “I’m a part of this place, without me, it would just be another porn shack”. You’ll make friends, go to pubs, gigs and clubs. Maybe you’ll take drugs, fuck a lecturer, or discover what it takes to take on the girls hockey team. You’ll work really hard, put your back into it, pour your heart out and get given little numbers to justify your existence (over 60 means no self-harm tonight). All optional of course, that’s the joy of this place. It’s where you can be you in all your disgusting glory. The chav that used to laugh at you is fixing your car now, the teacher who told you off for wearing mascara to school is wearing fucking jeans! No one is left to stop you from being the you you always thought you should be. And like all opportunities, it’s yours to waste! At leisure. Do as little work as you find medically safe. Or throw yourself in. Sneak a tent into the public library and order in pizzas when the librarian has slipped into yet another coma of tedium. Everything and nothing are both options to consider.

You’ll meet the best friends you’ll ever meet, members for your band, players for your sports and writing partners who seem to bring the magic back to the whole process, to the extent that you start a crappy internet blog together. The companionship you find in these walls may last the rest of your life. But then you graduate. The work is done. You hand in your last essay to the old woman behind the big scary desk, which suddenly seems so small. You leave the last exam hall, throw your pen into the bin on the way out, what’s left to write? You may celebrate. Go to the pub where you see everyone you had met in the last three years, go to the cinema with your lecturer and his surprisingly hot girlfriend with the alarming laugh, and then round off the evening with one last drink before you walk away and realise you may never see everyone together again. You do graduate, you go along to the big ceremony covered from every angle imaginable by thousands of family members, each wi-fied directly to youtube and facebook, ready to upload the kind of thorough pictures you’d more immediately associate with a military reconnaissance mission. You wear the sexy robes, do sexy things like shake an old mans hand and hold a plastic certificate whilst the desperate photographer tries valiantly to make you look like you’ve gained something in the last three years, that you are in some way closer to the picture you saw on the prospectus three years earlier. Then you look around. You look around at this place that for three long years meant everything. And then you leave.

That’s the truth folks. University is like an immense fantasy camp in which you study fantastic things and tell yourself that they will in some way be useful down the line.  Because it doesn’t prepare you for the world. Far from it. The university life is very sweet but the price for this is even greater than the debt you’ve worked your way into over the past three little years. Because it’s an illusion. The vitally important things you learned that will never be used again. The dear and close friends you made live a hundred miles away. The sense of purpose and logic as you progressed from one year to the next, one subject to another, suddenly ends and leaves you to figure it out for yourself. And even remembering all of it whilst writing a crappy, poorly written blog article will pain you greatly filling your belly with tension and your eyes with tears. Because when you throw your hat into the air and it comes crashing down you realise how far you flew, and how far you must now fall.

But you have to take heart really. And there’s no reason not to. If life really does begin at forty then we get to be children for another twenty years. The friends you made are further afield but still closer than ever. The books you read are still on the shelves and reading them connects you to a world you’ve always loved. If you stop smoking, fucking and drinking then you have another sixty years ahead in which to fight, dance, read, watch and hell take up fucking again. Why must we wait until we’re on our last legs to make a bucket list? Make it now and get to it. You took a leap with university, do it again.  In this article I purge myself of every negative thought I might have felt towards the place of my higher education, because you can’t resent a lover for leaving you forever. Far better you remember the good times she gave you. And should anyone read this, considering making the leap and studying something, even something not particularly useful, I can only recommend that you make that leap and for three years make the most of being young, stupid and free. It may not be all down hill afterwards, but it certainly levels out somewhat.

From Nerds Get Bored, we say good luck to you. Boring little maths students, grubby little business folk, nerdy little scientists, awesome little historians. Geologists, linguists, designers and programmers and all the other fledgling human beings out there. The world isn’t good enough, but it’ll do.

P for personal.

(new lists coming soon)

Why I’ve Been Somewhat Absent

Truth is, readers, there’s a new man in my life. His name is Stieg. He’s sweedish, and truth is he’s getting on a bit.

Stieg monopolises most of my time at the moment. He’s a writer, mysteries. I’m so into him that ive walked into trees cause I haven’t been able to take my eyes off him. I take him into the bath with me. Even the toilet.

If you haven’t got it yet…i’m actually talking about Stieg Larsson, and ‘getting on a bit’ is an understatement, seeing as he’s dead.

For those of you who have been living in a hole for the last few years; Larsson wrote what is now known as ‘The Millenium Trillogy.’ These books (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire and The Girl who Kicked the Hornets’ nest) are really someting else. Half way through book one I bought book two so I could move straight on, and borrowed book three to move straight onto that, also.

The three books focus on unconventional heronie Lisbeth Salander and investictive journalist Mikeal Blomkvist. Salander is in her mid-twenties, she has a photographic memory and is a master computer hacker. Blomkvist is somewhat of  ‘celebrity’ by the end of Book One, an invesgative journalist he has a flare for solving crime. But my aim here isn’t to review the books.

READ THEM.

Other things i’ve been doing with my time:

  • Pretending to be a good teacher.
  • Turning 21.
  • Getting over the fact Uni is actually over. Forever.
  • Starting my book.
  • Looking over plans for world domination. Seems to be fine.

I’m back, bitches.

-K for Kalle Blomkvist.

Kentucky Fried Death

You walk past the friendly cafe full of builders cheerfully bashing pakis and foreign football players. You walk past the air conditioned supermarket with little old ladies picking up the latest copy of wired and kerang magazine. You pass the trendy sandwich bar with the attractive business ladies debating which is more slimming: galaxy or dairy milk? You pass the fruit stand as the young, smooth proprietor looks at you through his designer stubble and judges you with his hairy chin and frizzy hair. “Stop judging me!” you shout as you kick his stupid pineapples and run away. A jogger runs past, you don’t make eye contact. A fit builder strides across the street, muscles gleaming, blinding you, forcing you to curl into the foetal position until he’s gone. Because you’re not going to the friendly cafe. Nor are you going to the air conditioned supermarket, nor the trendy sandwich bar or the humble fruit stand. You’re going to KFC.

The restaurant is far from the station and uphill, the wind always seeming to be against you. You walk through the door and find yourself in a world of plastic in which you squeak meekly as you approach the counter. “Hi, can I help you?” she asks, energetically. She smiles as she takes down your suicide note and works out the bill for the pain you’ve decided to inflict upon yourself. She hands you the food and tells you to enjoy your meal. But that’s not what she’s saying. She’s saying “I’m sorry” as she sympathetically slides the tray before you and you sigh deeply before picking it up and limping away from the counter.

Even though the heat is unbearable you cannot sit by the open door or window. You must go to the back of the restaurant. You sit near the kitchen and stare into the wall as, although you took several busses and a train to ensure no one you know would see you, you must hide your shame from the well meaning strangers.  You start to eat. You begin with the fries as there is some dignity in the humble chip. You pity them, You wonder if these chips dreamed of being part of a far nobler meal. In a bowl in an english pub perhaps alongside some battered fish. Or maybe in a fashionable American dinner, filled with the laughter of children and the busle of young friends. Casually laid aside a fine Italian meal in a turquoise porcelain bowel. Cut fine, cooked light . Or even being a baked potato in their youth. Too late now. They act only to comfort a dying man.

You get to the chicken and it’s wrong. It’s messy, it’s dry, it’s ugly, you get through two bottles of water just trying to stay hydrated and the grease is on your fingers, over your face, in your blood. But it’s so finger lickin’ good! Every two horrible bites are joined by one of pure crispy, juicy perfection. It’s enough to tease you. It’s enough to bring you back. It’s enough to keep you chewing on the tough, stringy meat. You suffer through the indignity and disgust of your fellow human beings just so you can achieve that elusive, wonderful bite, that may only come once a meal. But you hunt for it! You will always return looking for answers at the bottom of the bucket.

Yet everyday you promise yourself afresh. Tomorrow I will go to the trendy sandwich bar. I’ll take up jogging and building and I’ll buy one of those water bottles you don’t have to unscrew to drink from. Because there’s no time for bottle opening! There are calories to be burned off and asses to be kicked. One day you can walk heartily down the street and laugh vigorously as the fat children waddle past. “buy a wii fit!” you’ll shout and then you’ll laugh again, even more vigorously. You can afford to, your heart is fine now.  You smile a little as you look away and back towards the greasy bones of a better you.

P for Pulmonary embolism

Work…

My job basically consists of reading twenty year old minutes from committee meetings. Every now and then one of the people expresses “satisfaction with last week’s event which was well received by all in attendance”. I think we all know these people are hosting orgies. In one of my notes it says that they rewarded a member who had provided catering services with a “vote of thanks”. What the hell is that? A vote of thanks? I bet it wasn’t even unanimous. I’ve already started a soap opera in my head using these characters. Sometimes Linda Lawson will raise a point about raising funds from charitable donations and I think “Andrew Hamilton won’t like that! Not with John Wilson watching!”. Whenever a character resigns from office they’ve actually committed suicide and/or moved to the country. Or, if they’re replaced immediately, regenerated! It’s often complicated trying to give one of them amnesia though, especially with recaps of previous meetings at the start.

The office opposite me was collecting chairs for a conference today. They came in and asked about my chair but I pointed out that it was in use. At lunch time I was very concerned that they may steal my chair and so I wrote a small note and placed it on the chair.

To whom it may concern,

Please do not take my chair. I will return shortly and will need it for sitting.

Thank you, (smiley face)

Went to lunch, ate, everything was going according to plan. Then I get back and find the chair is missing and a new note has replaced it. It reads:

Dear mr gets-bored,

We’ve taken your chair. We don’t even really need it. We have loads of chairs. There is no conference. But we like your chair. It’s very soft. Very sturdy, if you know what we mean. And I think your chair likes us to.

Chair guys.

Tomorrow as I leave for lunch I feel a more appropriate note is required:

To whom it may concern,

I have your son and/or daughter.  If you do not wish me to fill their mouths with spray cheese and then insert a starving gerbil into their arse(s), then I recommend you leave this chair the fuck alone.

Thanks (smiley face)

There’s a guy in my building on the top floor. His office is alone on the floor opposite the only toilet in the building. He must have worked years to get there and now the whole office shits ten feet away from his desk. You have to walk past the office to get to the toilet, so he always sees the people going past. I always try to make eye contact and whilst in there I make sure he knows I’m enjoying it! Fuck that guy. Office having mo fucker!

Two peculiar anomalies in my office. One is a framed picture of David Bowie from Labyrinth. The other is a trophy cabinet. The Bowie picture I can only justify as proof of God(Allah/Jehovah/etc)’s divine sense of Irony, but the cabinet I can fully justify as my reward for 21 years of being me. I can fully explain what each trophy is for. That’s for the stone I lost last summer. That’s for remembering to brush my teeth everyday since I was three. That’s for the black chick (the biggest trophy). That’s for never smoking. And that’s for your successful integration back into society.

Sometimes I treat my building as if it was a stealth game. I see if I can get to the employee lounge and back again without anyone seeing me. I’m always very surprised when they do see me. Especially when they scream (think it’s the Sam Fisher costume). But although my costume is fake, my HK USP 9MM is not. So I do usually make it to the lounge.

Most of this is true, I  think.

P for psycho.