Sunday, September 30, 2012

Aliens Of Our Past Attack!

The other week I decided to take things to a new level with ORP and tried it using a slide film (diapositiva). I later on deliberately had  it processed as if it was a negative film.  Such "cross-processing" normally results in very saturated colours and high contrasts, and since I was using colour filters when taking the pictures I was expecting strong tones to create new and strange colours as they blend into each other as a consequence of the multi-exposure.

Well, strong tones is what I was expecting. But if you chose to use some film you've never used before and apply chemicals it was not really made for, then you should be prepared for the unexpected. And so it happened: to my initial horror the cross-processed unknown film produced the complete opposite of what I originally wanted, namely almost monochrome pictures in shades of red and white. 

I believe that everything happens for a reason, and now that I look at these pictures vaguely two weeks after the "initial shock", I think that their "alien" tone in fact goes quite well with the messages the photos convey to me - and which I tried to translate into spoken language in the titles.       

 Aliens Of Our Past Attack

In my previous blog post I mentioned Cream's song "Those Were The Days". Apparently that tune had lingered on in my mind because a few days later, after Nina and I went hiking somewhere in Styria with my parents and my brother (all pictured above) I decided to experiment around with the cover of a special 4 CD set with all songs that Clapton, Bruce and Baker recorded together in the Sixties. I put one of the CDs on top of the cover so that only the face of a female with a somewhat weird facial expression was shown, and placed the light source and camera in a way that spectral colours would appear on the surface of the CD.

 ...and although spectral COLOURS are not precisely what I got, I at least got "spectral RED"  :-) 

  They Are Trying To Lock Away Nature From Us Humans 

Chilling at my parent' s place after the hike, I at one point lied on my back, put a coffee-house chair above my head and took pics looking up into the lamp. That merged with one of the several photos of skies and trees which I made during the hike.

 Like Trying To Catch A Falling Leaf

Walking around in Vienna with Nina a few days ago I picked up some leafs. When meditating on where and how to photograph them, I decided to go for Nina's suggestion and put them onto the stone floor of our kitchen and illuminate them with some strong light coming from one side.  The evening before I obviously had a photo shoot with my own fingers  :-)  These two pics superimpose another one of those pics from the hike in Styria.

 Aliens Of Our Past Disappear 

The woman's face from the aforementioned cover of the "Cream" recordings, encircled by one of the four CDs, shares the frame with what I believe are beams of light through blinders at my parents' house, and both blend with yet another sky picture taken in the South of Austria...   

Resealable Freshness ?

 Styrian skies and a box that contains rather popular potato chips together ask me a tough question. I do not have the answer - do you?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ego Trips

 Those Were The Days 

The other day I took an old photo album from the shelf and made pictures of portraits that were taken of me in the seventies and eighties - sometimes (as in this case) I superimposed them using multiple exposure.   When I saw those two young Roberts blend with the eyes of Max, the one year old son of a close friend of mine, I instantly had to think of the Cream song that I chose for the photo title.

"Tie your painted shoes and dance
Blue daylight in your hair
Overhead a noiseless eagle fans a flame
Wonder everywhere."

 How To Build A Stronger Ego

My brother came to Vienna recently and we spent some time walking around taking pictures of buildings I get to see almost every day - like the "Haas Haus".   That made me feel (and possibly look) like a tourist in my own town.   A few days later Nina and I had a very brief photo shoot in our living room during which she took three portraits of me with some strong light coming from the bottom left.

I had no idea what to call this picture.  So I searched the web using the keywords "ego" and "building".   The very first search result became the photo title.

 Things Are Not What They Seem

This is another portrait of me taken by Nina during the same living room photo session as in "How To Build A Stronger Ego".  Nina asked me to do the "counter-intuitive" and keep the eye that is exposed to the light open while closing the one on the "dark side".   The other picture with the lampshades, wooden wall and family portrait was taken inside a typical Viennese Kaffeehaus while I was being a "tourist in my own city". 

When I was thinking of a suitable photo title, the first word that came to mind was the latin word "illuminatus".  I do not consider myself such, however decided to use that keyword for a search on the web.  I came across a trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.  The story meanders between thoughts, inner voices (both real and imagined) as well as through the past, present, and future.  This blog post surely enough meanders through my own past and present - and future?  :-)       


If I ever was to consciously decide upon blending a seventies photograph of myself with the menu announcement outside a Viennese restaurant, I would surely position the white letters a bit more to the right of the picture.  But since thanks to coincidence - or whatever - this is how the picture turned out, I guess it is how it was meant to be :-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Alternate Versions 1

Sometimes when I find an interesting photo motif I end up taking several pictures, albeit always with some tiny variations.  If such pics overlap with pics from yet another such "variations on a certain topic"-session, I every now and then as a result get a whole set of more or less similar multiple exposure photos.  So here are a few variations on previously published "images of the subconscious"  with some explanations as to how they came about.  

Floating Across A Recipe Book

Before Nina and I started our two week visit to Lebanon I decided to not come "unprepared".  So I spent several hours in our apartment listening to the music of Toufic Farroukh, Rabih Abou Khalil and Fairouz while taking pictures of things with a strong link to the country of the cedars: oriental CD covers, a can of Tahini or hommos, books like "Orientalism", "The Prophet" or cook books as this final product illustrates.

On one of our first days in Lebanon, my father-in-law took us to a lake in the mountains where we spotted some swans.  Of course it is one of the cheesiest photo motifs on earth, but apparently part of me likes "kitsch" :-)

Let' s Think

One sunday evening my mother-in-law, Nina, Bassam and I walked along Corniche seafront in Beirut and enjoyed a beautiful sunset (speaking of kitsch, hehe).  So I took portraits of the profiles of Bassam and Francoise against the fast descending source of light, in this photo, Francoise's elegantly accompanies the flight of stairs.

As mentioned in another post I needed to rush things to "fill my cartridges with content" when the end of our two weeks stay in Lebanon was drawing near.  One of these rushed pictures was a series of photos of stairs that had the words "LETS THINK POSITIVE" painted onto them.

The Return Of The Seaman

Again at the Corniche, this time I caught some guy walking around on the rocks by the sea.

One afternoon I spent about an hour walking around in Hamra with my camera, prepared to use colour filters for whatever I would "portrait".  Some stairs and a brick wall that fenced of some greenery were among those things and seem to nicely accompany the Seaman in the above collage.

When Worlds Collide

The same bricks as above in this photo share the frame with an image of the almost 40 year-old ruin of the Holiday Inn in downtown Beirut, as seen through a side street. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Urban Heroes

Urban Heroes
Lebanon is famous for its cedars, and luckily they are still abundant in protected nature reserves.  A rare sight in this country on the other hand are bicycles, not least because it is dangerous to ride your bike in a city like Beirut.

            How I Painted Her Dreams

One evening when passing by a small electrician's shop which had already closed I saw it had kept some flashy lights on.  Would be nice to think that Nina had as colourful a dream when she was chilling on one of the few public beaches in Lebanon.

 Finally I Can See The Light

When taking a walk along the Corniche seafront in Beirut, you will almost certainly find these mosaics on the floor and benches.  That superimposed an admittedly somewhat cheesy photo of the sun shining through the branches of a palm tree which I took using a "Star 8" filter. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Any Colour You Like

Improvise (2012)

I was walking around in Beirut one afternoon, taking pictures of buildings, using colour filters...  The photo of this particular facade got blended with a fake signpost with the word "improvise" which was printed on a table in my new favourite bar in Hamra - with the fitting name "February 30".

 Bassam Has Yet Another Revelation (2012)  

When our two weeks stay in Lebanon was almost over I needed to rush things to get the final cartridge in my camera "filled with content".  One of these hurried photos was a picture of the reflection of a house on a car's windshield.  The photo superimposed another which I took a week earlier of Bassam who was apparently enjoying the beautiful sunset as much as I did.

Any Person Can Have A Life Painted Any Colour That She Or He Wants
So Long As It Is Grey (2012)

in 1909 Henry Ford famously said that "any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black".  That got Pink Floyd to name a track on one of their best albums "Any Colour You Like".  I was reminded of all that when I found sections of pics from the aforementioned "buildings session" merged with some colourful graffito next to American University of Beirut (AUB).


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sometimes In Summer We Freeze

Sometimes In Summer We Freeze (2012)

Black Coffee Black Out (2012)

 No Electricity No Direction (2012)

Sea Level Rise Coming To A Place Near You (2012)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Arabian Waltz

Arabian Waltz


For Making That In Gramma…  Would…?

  The Orient Was Almost A European Invention

Searching The Sea For The Past

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Beirut Revolution Now

Free Your Mind, Kill Your TV
(Graffiti in Hamra, Beirut against a TV snapshot of the Mokdad clan who were mobilising their troops in response to the kidnapping of one of their family members in August 2012.)

Dinner In The Upside Down Past
(Portrait of Nina against the ruins of the "Holiday Inn" in Beirut which was built between 1971 and 1974 and destroyed during the 1975-1990 civil war.)

 None Of Them Really Won 
(Sunset on the Corniche of Beirut against posters of Bashir Gemayel, president of Lebanon who was assassinated almost to the day 30 years ago - on September 14 1982, after only 3 weeks in office.  The killing was said to have triggered the massacres in the Palestinian camps of Sabra and Shatila.)   

 If Only Wars Had Off-Switches 
(An on/off switch in our hotel room against a street sign on Beirut' s Hamra Street that marks the spot where in 1982 Khalid ‘Alwan, a Lebanese resistance leader killed three Israeli soldiers who were sitting in a cafe.

We Come In Peace
(Airplane approaching the Rafic Hariri International Airport against a graffiti in Nahr Street, Beirut.)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Organic Random Photography

It was in 2010 when I first tried a technique which I like to call “Organic Random Photography” (ORP) where I first take “analogue” pictures and make sure to expose the film with only 50% of the actually needed light quantity.  When all 36 (or 24) pictures have been taken, I rewind the film (albeit not completely), put it back into either the same or another camera and take yet another 36 (or 24) pics, again 50% underexposed.  The result is a blend of at least two completely unrelated photos (if the borders of the pics are not perfectly aligned it might even be a blend of three photos).  The fun - and risk! - lies in the fact that when taking the “overdub” pictures I do not know whether I am just destroying or as hoped enriching some really good shots.

The reason I started trying this technique is my belief that our creativity is by nature very limited (geniuses aside).  That said, I am convinced that every one of us is born as a creative individual.  Picasso once said:  “Every child is an artist; the problem is to remain an artist once he grows up”.  But no matter how original you are in your writings, paintings, compositions, pictures etc., there is a limited distance one will be able to go and before too long we run the risk of start repeating ourselves.  And what is worse: even if we’ ve just created something extraordinary - most of us will probably feel that someone else has already done it before!

“If I can’ t be the first to try something new at least I can play a trick on my limited creativity by playing with chance”, or so my thinking went.  You can call this approach utterly uncreative.  I might even agree.  However what if the result is something more original than anything I could have come up with intentionally (or shall I say: “consciously”) ? And because it is coincidence or my subconscious rather than a computer that “randomly matches” the pictures, I consider this to be an “organic” process.  Hence the name “Organic Random Photography”.