gill moore photography

Archive for the 'Japan' Category

International Garden Photographer of the Year 2008

The International Garden Photographer of the Year Competition is one of the most prestigious photography contests  and the Overall Winner this year features the above stunning scene from a Japanese Garden.  Australian photographer, Claire Takacs, managed to be in the right place at a wonderful time AND possessed the skills to create a beautiful evocative image.  What is it about trees and snow which combines so perfectly.

 

Talking of trees, allow me to point you in the direction of Paul Debois.  He has a series of black and white images taken with a pinhole camera in the Portolio Section of the IGPOY competition (click here to view) which I just adore.  Yes, the winning set of shots is beautiful but (in my humble opinion) Debois’ work is more deserving for top spot as it is individual, highly creative and skilful and possesses the ability to move you into another zone.  I have always liked Edward Steichen’s work and it was no surprise to read that Paul Debois’ “Pinhole Impressions” has a dab of Steichen inspiration behind it.

 

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“Tokyo Story” a film by Yasujiro Ozu (Japan) 1953

This is a wonderful film I saw last weekend. I have listed below some random facts and opinions. I hope it intrigues and encourages some of you to see it and do let me know what you think.

  • Brief Plot : Two elderly parents from a small seaside town in southwest Japan pay a visit to their busy children in Tokyo – a journey that, before the introduction of the bullet train, took almost a day.
  • Released one year after the end of the Allied Occupation of Japan, showing the changes and transitions on the road to a modern Japan.
  • “This film is the Director’s masterpiece: tender, profoundly mysterious and desperately sad” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)
  • A classic of World Cinema (BBC)
  • Made post World War II, released in 1953 and shot in black and white.
  • One of the best 100 Films ever made (Time Magazine).
  • Sight and Sound magazine called “Tokyo Story” one of the three greatest films of all time”.
  • The Best Film Ever Made declared in 2005 by Halliwell’s Film Guide.
  • Simple yet universal theme of families and how they can drift apart.
  • 100% Japanese reflecting a very different culture and society values to the West.
  • Many filming techniques are quite alien to those familiar with mainstream movies.
  • Trademark Ozu style: slow and still, low camera angles, minimilist, static camera (as a mere observer), lack of action, uneventful plot, no upbeat ending, landscape or wide-shots are used to allow a “chill-out” and separate scenes, characters often filmed sideways allowing the viewer to feel in the middle of the conversation, scenes often filmed in profile and framed within a building.
  • The Director pioneered “ellipses” where major events are discussed but not shown within a film.
  • “Tokyo Story” was not released in the US until 1972.
  • Ozu made 54 films (26 in his first 5 yrs), which were very popular in Japan but under-appreciated in the West.
  • There is a lack of editing and scenes are often shot in one take.
  • Because of this lack of manipulation the viewer slowly becomes emotionally engaged with the characters and eventually by the end of the film the cumulative effect is that it hits home with power and honesty.
  • Ozu does not point fingers instead he creates more of a contemplative meditation on the transitory nature of life.
  • One of the most sympathetic characters Toriko (the daughter-in-law) is played by Sesuko Haro who features in many of the Director’s other films. The actress never gave interviews and refused to be photographed, she retired from making films at the height of her fame.
  • The viewer is drawn towards the characters through subtle gestures, observation of Japanes social manners and conversation, tiny details echo the bigger picture with wonderful camera framing and cinematography.
  • Sound plays an important part, the rhythm of journey pervades the entire film, from background steamboats to speeding trains. A ticking clock or the sounds of the city subtly compliment the major themes of the story.
  • One of the Director’s favourite films was Orson Welles “Citizen Kane”.
  • My favourite key message “the beauty of life is often found by standing still”
An amazing website detailing images and journals from Ozu’s huge back catalogue can be found here it seems to be part of the University of Toyko website.

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“Psycho Buildings” exhibition @ Hayward Gallery, London featuring Rachel Whiteread and others

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Taking its title from a book of photographs of odd structures by the artist Martin Kippenberger. A lot of urban spaces are very regimented, and a ‘psycho building’ is something that breaks out of this and reveals that our relationships with space can be extremely varied”.

For anyone with an interest in the built environment, I think a trip to the Hayward Gallery in London’s South Bank Centre could prove rewarding. Psycho Buildings runs until the 25th August 2008 and it utilises all the usual gallery space plus the three exterior terrace areas which are usually devoted to showcase sculptural exhibits.
Featuring ten of the best architecturally-inspired artists in the world, each installation is designed to make the viewer think twice about the nature of architecture and buildings. Visitors will enter and explore specially constructed dynamic creations which use light, colour, smell and challenging design. Each aims to illustrate how our build environment can shape mood and emotion and may prompt the question – when exactly does a building become a scuplture?
The artist’s are as follows:
Atelier Bow-Wow (Japan), Michael Beutler (Germany), Los Carpinteros (Cuba), Gelitin (Austria), Mike Nelson (UK), Ernesto Neto (Brazil), Tobias Putrih (Slovenia), Tomas Saraceno (Argentina), Do-Ho Suh (Korea) and Rachel Whiteread (UK).

Each artist had a month to install their work and this does mean the work displays a high level of detail and craftsmanship. Of major interest will be the installation created by Rachel Whiteread.

She is known to many as the UK artist awarded the Turner Prize in 1993 for her work “House” a concrete cast of the interior of a 19th Century terraced house in the East End of London.

For the “Psycho Buildings” exhibition Whiteread’ has chosen to display “The Finished Place (Village)” an installation made up of 200 doll’s houses from her personal collection, assembled over the last 20 years.

Step outside and visit one of the Sculptural Terraces areas and you will be confronted with work from Austrian collective Gelitin have created an infinity-style boating lake for the 21st century.

The exhibition takes place to mark the 40th anniversary of the Hayward Gallery, itself one of the world’s most architecturally unique spaces for displaying art. A major sponsor is Bloomberg. This company is one of the largest privately-owned supporter of the arts in the UK. They also sponsor “The New Contemporaries” showcase for emerging talent which I blogged about earlier in the year.

Not knowing much about Bloomberg I decided to delve a little deeper. They are a huge wordwide company built on providing up-to-the minute information and data for business and finance professionals. They support many cultural projects around the world, running a programme of exhibitions, performances, talks and other events. Six years ago Bloomberg opened up it’s own gallery called Bloomberg SPACE dedicated to commissioning and exhibiting contemporary art. “A dynamic space without an agenda, where artists and audience can explore new ideas and relationships in an innovative way” it is open to their employees and clients and the immediate community.

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Chelsea Flower Show 2008: My 3 favourite design ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

The Chelsea Flower Show 2008 has been taking place this week and amongst the showy big-budget affairs you can always pick out a few clever and inspiring designs.

Three of my favourite ideas were:

1) The walls on the “Pemberton Greenish Recess Garden” by Paul Hensey and Neil Lucas. Awarded a Silver Gilt Medal.

 

 

 

 

 

One of the main designers is Paul Hensey based in Lancashire, England. His background is in product design and I think his roots shine through brilliantly within this garden. He frames the planting by creating tactile and innovative walls, one is made from recycled blocks of off-cut wood which has the added benefit of absorbing sound, very useful in an urban setting. Simple, neat and brilliant.

2) The use of mosses in the “Midori No Tobira (The Green Door) Garden” by Ishihara Kazuyuki . Awarded a Gold Medal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Japanese designer draws inspiration from “the smell of moist earth, the softness and sheen of wet rocks, the irregular flow of water” and always brings elements of innovative Japanese garden design to his work. Using vertical “living walls”, planting on spare roof space and working to a perfectly natural colour scheme of white, blue and green his creations are always wonderfully soothing spaces. Inspirational and relevant.

3) The firepit in the “Fleming’s and Trailfinder’s Australian Garden” by Jamie Durie. Awarded a Gold Medal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Created with a budget of £400,000 and featuring a myriad of native Australian plants this garden is a stunner but probably a little out of reach for your ordinary Pom. The neat design of the firepit within a central circular table may prove useful though. Imagine being able to brave a chilly UK evening with a clear dusk night falling, some “al fresco” dining could be possible with a crackling fire providing some warmth. Turning the fire pit into a barbecue would give still more functionality. A win-win for me.
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