Hokusai

Hokusai

I got to the Hokusai show at NGV on a rainy Friday afternoon and the collection of work did not disappoint. Viewing the great wave off Kanagawa, I could understand what Van Gogh meant when he said;

these waves are claws, the boat is caught in them, you can feel it”

The fishermen and their boats are dwarfed by this almost tsunami like force of water bearing down on them. It’s not something you get to appreciate until you see the original up close, as so many re interpretations of this iconic image leave them out.

It also made me think about the two other artisans involved and that relationship. To produce the woodblock prints, Hokusai’s illustrations were stuck to wooden blocks that were then carved into the different colour separations for printing. The final work shows their skills as much as the artists.

In a photographic context, Annie Leibovitz or Albert Watson work with teams who create sets, do costumes, makeup, lighting and post production. That’s important to consider when you try setting your goals to match their output but don’t have access to that team. It’s easy to be disheartened if you get sucked into comparisons.

Don’t view that lack of resources just as a limitation, rather it’s an opportunity to learn those aspects and having a hands on understanding of what those people do will develop your understanding of what is possible. It’s also an opportunity to seek out people in those fields for creative collaboration.

It’s also good to look at the work produced without the cadre of assistants and see that the fundamentals of what makes a good image are still present. No amount of additional people will save you from trying to work on a bad idea and subsequently producing a bad image.

 

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Looking at and listening to

Apart from podcasts, I have been listening to some new music. My favourite and only official barista, Alex, put me onto Suzannah Espie. My other favourite at present is the Album Hand Picked by Mark Wilkinson.

Something that caught my eye was a series of images by spanish photographer Rodriguez Moranta called Silence is Grey. On their own they don’t stand out but as a group seeing the differences over time was interesting to me.

Another thing I am thinking about is not ignoring familiar things as subject matter. Fellow blogger and photographer Andrew Friend made an image of the fountain across from my office. I must walk past it at least twice a day and yet I never really thought about it as subject matter.

I have done odd things with familiar objects in the office though.

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I thought the rain was going to keep me away from my camera but perhaps some still life work is in order…