Self-Portraits in Black & White

Self-portraits because sometimes you just have to know that you exist. They are against a painting not yet finished. A tea towel over the clamp lamp with a daylight bulb in it. Wearing the grey cap I always wear; teal cloisonné earrings dangle that belonged to my mother.

They were taken with an iPhone 4, Camera+ app; the first one with a Contessa Fx filter. It's a bit over-exposed. I have to wash my hair, lol. Hence the braid (which you can't see in this pic) and the cap (which I do wear a lot, and sometimes all day and evening at home too even when washing is not needed). Silly polyester thing that's probably made from recycled pop bottles (which is good = recycled). No idea why of my huge collection of hats, it's become a fav. It takes the rain really well too.

The second one I prefer. It also was originally colour, and I think I used an 'antique' filter on it. After seeing the Frida and Diego show at the AGO last week, and the many gelatin prints of them, I came away loving black and white for its shadows, its focus on form, its play with light on the skin, in the eyes. Hence these little self-portraits in the shades.

There is quite a different view when a photograph is in strong shades of blacks and whites. The form of the face becomes more of a focus; the expression deeper. We are not seduced by colour. It's a harsher view and yet because photography grew out of this play of shadow and light, also nostalgic. The colour cones in our eyes are only active during daylight; at night, the rods on the sides of our retinas become active, and they only 'see' in black and white. So, we could say a 'gelatin' print appeals to our nocturnal vision.

And this is my favourite. It barely looks like me; in fact, I doubt anybody would recognize me from it. Likely I look 10 years older in it. But the shadows... oh! Rich mantle of shadow over the eyes. What mystery. You are being seen without seeing exactly who is watching you. And the neck with its creases and folds. The imperfect skin. I just love it.


Costume for Tangled Garden

Composing a simple costume, sewed some lace,
put on the green goddess masque, for a little video
of dance to layer into my long video poem, Tangled Garden.

This test iPhone photo shows the woman  in something pinned
and strapless. I will likely layer over a white bodysuit for the little
bit a movement I may add here and there to the video.

(with thanks to Bent Lorentzen for the suggestion to add dance
to the video)

I quite like the photo I created this evening, though.

C'mon, the woman is texting.... who? Isn't this just such
a 'now' photo? The mirrored self snapped by cell phone.
Something ... I like about this little composition. A surreality.

Stills from 'Doubles, Doppelgängers, Clones'

An unplanned video -are they ever any other way?- thought I'd set the camera up while painting, yes at night, I know, silly, only I got talking, you know how it is. Thought it way too dark to consider for anything, but a filter on FinalCut Express, which is what I use to edit video, brought the light out. It's nearly 7½ minutes long, was over 8GB in a Quicktime .mov, but with a bit of fiddling, and I hope the quality is alright when it's finished uploading, I got it down to 1.6GB -under the 2GB limit at YouTube.

It's a 6 hour upload, I know, marathon. Should be up by tomorrow. A few stills... (click for larger)

Later now and it's up:
Parchment Figures: Doubles, Doppelgängers, Clones

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Earth Night

Today I downloaded from Librivox Dostoyevsky's, Notes from the Underground, a book I have tried to read on and off for 30 years (I had read The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment).

When I was younger a storm of words was in me that only words could feed, and so I read like a dervish, and yet this book, I could only read a few paragraphs. Even a few sentences of this book triggered so many thoughts that I found hours had gone by and I had not read to the end of the first page. Last year I tried again and drifted into a philosophical speculative mood that also made me aware of my own tattered and ragged weltanschauung edges.

But now, thanks to an audiobook where it is read to me, I can listen during long walks with my dog in the night. Tonight I listened to half the book. How can I express how I love Dostoyevsky's vision, humour, seriousness, learning and depth of feeling- his exceptional literary talent (even in translation) whereby he presents a psychological book of anguish, an interior rumination of a gauntlet through life?

I am so glad for the gift of this book, the way I have found to finally 'read' it.

Dostoyevsky created a narrator in this book who is unlike any other. I can only think of a handful of books that are entirely composed of a soliliquey that reaches deeply into the philosophical and emotional depth of a life (one that comes immediately to mind is Clarice Lispector's, The Stream of Life, though it is an entirely different book, being a poetical treatise of a dying woman who writes what she thinks, feels, remembers, imagines without any barriers, from her pure pumping open veins).

Anyway, today I downloaded Notes from the Underground from a newly discovered gem of a site, Librivox: acoustical liberation of books in the public domain, where volunteers read books whose copyright has expired. Only I found the (male) voice(s) a little too strident, too peppy for this dark and difficult work, so I spent hours enhancing each .mp3, which is how each chapter arrives, adding a slight reverb, an imperceptible echo, some extra bass (double on that), a tad of voice enhancement, making an audiobook of over two hours that is an easier listen, that doesn't interrupt the text in its speaking.

It was an amazing walk tonight, my dog and I and Dostoyevsky. During the quiet dark of Earth Night.
Who knows why I am taking these over-exposed flashlit computer photos at night... though this was after turning the lights back on!
I don't know how to turn off Photobooth's flash, I guess is it. But then without the flash the photo would have been shadowy in a pixelated way.

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It's a bit dark, first time I've used the control and the automatic focus didn't appear to be on, yet I like the photo anyhow. Perhaps it's the sense of:

'You are the TV'

Or this one I Photoshopped below - the caption could be:



(click for larger versions)

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Comments (4)


Inner changes? I'm feeling depressed, most uncharacteristically, which implies withdrawal of energy, transformation of the depths. What I'm feeling is a strength and a softness coming, these already as I define myself - independent and sensitive - but more so. Whatever anger I once had is long washed away; I am one of those people who loves to laugh. When I took these self-portraits today, I wasn't sure who I was seeing, pensive, yes, but lightness too.

Sunday morning: It's passed, only an evening or so, but uncharacteristic and thus important to pay attention to whatever newness is arising. An older layer of thinking passing away for a newer, fresher, more innocent self to emerge. If that makes sense! I edited the blurb to better reflect the inner process... I like the image of going to the depths to find the light, yes, the shamanic, visionary journey, and each time the depths are different and each time the light is a more complete spectrum of understanding.

There is a negative conventional view of depression. It's not seen as part of a larger process of the psyche in communion with its depths, nor the deep changes that may be occurring because it's seen as a problem, as anger turned in, that needs therapy and/or anti-depressants, and so the whole process of inner discovery is truncated. How can we develop wisdom when we are afraid of our shadows?

The sadness has always been in me, it's there in my photos as a young child, it's still there. Yet I am one of those people who loves to laugh, good deep belly-laughing!

I think I'm moving away from any sense of judgment, of applying systems of thought to people's actions, events, the way things are, that layer of thinking is disappearing, dying, thankfully, most thankfully, and a greater strength and softness is emerging.

The moment of 'depression' has passed and I'm feeling my usual quietly exuberant self today, ready to continue manifesting my dreams.
Comments (3)

On Sunday Morning...

It is a wonderful, bright & sunny Summer's morning. I'm not sure if I'm emerging from my cocoon or not, but I spent the entire day yesterday cleaning my apartment - at least half the day scrubbing my old sectional leather couch with a tiny natural bristle brush and a spray saddle soap that is simply amazing. The Italian pale gray leather couch from The Art Shoppe is almost 20 years old and has been through two kids, not just the milk burbs and apple juice but the coke phases as teenagers (well out of that now, tg), three cats - the leather worse for the wear, considering those little cat claws and all, and a fairly long-haired dog. It's ripped in one section, which I have to get fixed at some point.

My computer is full with my daughter's iPod iTunes songs and photos are a challenge, the system usually telling me the "scratch discs are full," so one at a time, saved onto a memory stick until we can figure out what to do - at this point I'm favouring a Mini Mac for her. But, oh what the heck, some morning photos for you-

And olde, fifty-five, a good age, as good as any, and lucky to be extremely fit - I notice no difference between now and 30 years ago in terms of flexibility or agility, the only thing is that I can't dance all night anymore. But even back then, I'd still be going at 4am and everyone would be flaked out around me. Now... I'm good for perhaps a couple of hours at most, though when was the last time I went to a party? A dance workshop coming up and we'll be dancing 5 or 6 hours straight, so perhaps I do myself injustice. Wrinkles on my face and tiny capillaries on my legs, but isn't that the wonderful part of aging? Seeing how far you've come? The way your journey is etched on your face, in your body?

You can see I am just moved in, more-or-less. That bookcase needs to be moved back by a strong man, perhaps my brother will drop by this afternoon. The wall needs some paintings - but with the very bright sunlight - the windows face due West, they can't be watercolour, something that can handle light like oils. Next year I hope to have some Italian silk curtains that I am lusting after, though they have to await other more necessary purchases (like a bed for the spare room). In the meantime, I went to the art store and bought kilometers of canvas, which are rolled back and clipped with Alligator clips until the sun comes burning around in the afternoons - it'll be wonderful in any other season, but those 30-35 C degree hot humid days, oh la! Steamy...

That's my doggy, Keesha. She's 8 years old, a Springer Spaniel, and very adorable.


Comments (4)
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