The 'selfie' phenomenon is as irresistible as inescapable. It's a fascinating study in human behaviour where we become actors on an improvised stage - Time Square, the Sydney Opera House, Grand Canyon ('just one further step backwards please' - only kidding!) or, in this instance, Uluwatu, Bali. They're some of the big ones, but the stage and opportunities are virtually endless.
More than that the 'selfie' shooter is frequently oblivious to his or her surroundings and neighbours. It is this fascination, narcissism perhaps, that intrigues me. This study of the grand setting - a pool paradise pulls relentlessly to merge the self-portraitist with their setting. And here is the result of patience paying close attention to pool and smart-phone users merging seamlessly, shamelessly into what is hopefully a defining 'selfie'.
Channel Nine's The Block rates its head off and we have been fortunate enough to cover the program now for the past three seasons. The Octagon building Melbourne's South Yarra gave us the chance to cover the project for architect Julian Brenchley and Viridian's design flagship - the e-magazine Vision we have been instrumental in re-launching. You can view some of the Octagon's very best work on this link to the November issue of Vision. It features an interview with Julian Brenchley about The Block. And Jenny and I have the pleasure of not only discussing the project in depth with Julian, but photographing and filming the project. All in all we bring our art to the process of complementing the extraordinary effort that goes into making The Block one of Australian television's absolute success stories. Here's Vision. We hope you enjoy our magazine and film interpretation of The Octagon:
All back issues are included on this link to visit previous Block specials and a range of outstanding Australian architecture.
Vision magazine is an online e-mag. we do each month for our friends at Viridian (the glass people!).
We get the chance to review and photograph some brilliant work. Here's the latest issue plus a link to all back issues. We hope you will agree there is wonderful work featured here.
Simply click on this link to view:
If travel broadens the mind, some places like Niseko on Japan’s North island Hokkaido, narrow the focus. It’s hard to actually be off the beaten track here given the tendency for landscapes to be shaped by people, as much as nature. But the landscape remains a genius, even if a bonsaied one compared to Australia.
So many people in such a small space. Right across Japan they recognize the art of cooperation for the common good. If you want an example of this look no further than how they lock up bicycles outside their houses and apartments. They don’t. Bicycle locks are almost never needed in Tokyo or anywhere else. Shame and pride are big deterrents, so row after row of bespoke bicycles sit temptingly in a way that would occur hardly anywhere else on the planet.
Even their bullet trains glide through that orchestrated landscape. Life by a railway line here isn’t all rattle and clatter. If there’s a sound it’s virtually gone before your ear-drums have a chance to react. And they don’t yell, or honk horns, or give each other the bird while driving. They simply bow courteously except for the accidental elbow or shove while squeezing onto public transport.
Which brings me to our recent excellent adventure at Niseko on Japan’s North island Hokkaido. Reputedly one of the world’s best ski resorts for powder hounds. I can vouch for this as I regularly performed face plants instead of pole plants. Powder skiing is a technique all of its own. One moment I felt like I was roller-blading and suddenly my skis sank into fluffy quicksand. Losing sight of my skis robbed my already bankrupt confidence and so I made another fresh impression on the slopes.
Fortunately our good friends from Velogear were on hand - ambassadors of goodwill and merriment – to witness our blunders off-piste. Yes we were slightly piste-off.
It changed our impression of deep, un-groomed powder. It’s hard. And unforgiving. Especially for skiiers who think anything after Australian conditions must be easy.
It isn’t. It’s like sinking in inexperience, or learning a foreign language – easier than usual to appear the idiot. Something like trying to explain an elegant turn of phrase like “the suppository of all wisdom” in Japanese. Especially when it doesn’t even translate well back home. Unless you’re a Rhodes Scholar of course.
Fortunately our friends from Velogear fitted us out with some of their uber comfortable SIX30 compression clothing. While it didn’t improve our skiing style we can say without hesitation we remained warm and supremely comfortable.
I began to wonder if this might not be the secret to happiness - gliding down the slopes secure in the knowledge that our muscle, bone and few extremities of flab were flexibly contained in garments of near-miraculous support.
Only once did I come close to losing my legendary cool when hanging out in in the lunchtime café crowd. An American dude confusing which line I was in directed: “Hey Buddy, get to the back of the queue.” I almost lost it then and there but I can safely say my SIX30 compression clothing helped me to hold it together and behave honorably in the best Japanese traditions. Praise for any product doesn’t come much higher.
Consistent surprise is an attitude I hope captured on the eve of publishing the 24th issue of the monthly design e-mag Vision. Let's avoid the tendency out there for blog blather and you decide whether we've come close to the mark in our effort to produce a vehicle worthy of the title 'Vision'. Take the time to check-out our recent project film clips added for that extra dimension to our reviews and photography.
Vision link: http://joom.ag/ft3p
You may notice we've loaded a new film short titled The Cloud. This is a visual essay on the new School of Architecture and Design by John Wardle architecture of Melbourne in association with NADAAA of Boston. It's a building of many complex parts with the kind of layers you would expect in a leading school of architecture.
The Cloud refers to the veiled elements of the building inside and out that acts much like a woman's fascinator if you like and softens the transition from one reading to something more subtly textured and layered.
The Cloud combines Claude Debussy's evocative Girl with the Flaxen Hair and this seems to propel the energy and delicacy of both building and film clip. We hope you enjoy the short journey provided by our camera and accompaniment provided by one of our favourite classical compositions.
Make sure you view it in high-definition and click the HD button. You can also view our film projects on Vimeo.
In case it isn't entirely obvious by the New Work we've just loaded in hyattgallery, yes, we have just visited Japan. There's more to come of course but this is a start and drawn from a broad landscape and climatic extremes. Japan is one of my favourite places of all times. It's as much a mono-culture as just about any country and this should qualify it as one of the least appealing places to live or visit, but the reverse holds true. It's outstanding on so many levels. It doesn't pretend to be perfect but it's a country of quiet, often profound application. We loved the generosity of its people too. And consideration for each other especially evident in bustling cities where people typically arc up with their neighbours.
Photography of such a place deserves all of the respect we could muster and so our images of winter snow to the sharp light of Tokyo is a result of love and respect rather than any other impulse. Our travels took us to Tokyo, Kyoto and Hokkaido amongst others and everywhere were hugely impressed by the attention to detail in all aspects of living from public transport to food presentation. All delivered with pride and humility. Talking of details we've included selective views of a 1940s Buick with a pair of rear parcel shelf bespoke beauties that seems to capture a post-war era of huge optimism and future possibilities. And maybe that's a good note on which to conclude. Optimism and wonder are wonderful antidotes in a world of increasing cynicism.