Props used in todays ‘baby steps’ shoot
Props used in todays ‘baby steps’ shoot
How would I describe this sensation?
The compulsion to run, hide & miniaturise until there is nothing left. To shrink into a dot so tiny it cannot be seen, but not so small that I blink out of existence.
Faced with the world, in all it’s terrifying scale & overwhelming opportunity, I am struck by a primal fear, a self-perpetuating, steadily inflating sense of unease or alienation. How did I come to be here? How have I come so far? The photo-album of my memory does not seem to belong to me; sifting through it’s pages, (blond child, ugly maroon uniform, a lovely couple at the steps of Bodington hall) I feel like an impostor in my own life.
Over the years the protagonist of my story has been replaced by an antagonist, but none of the other characters have noticed. And they never will.
But I am tired of the act; this narrative is turning into a train wreck & it’s just about time to abandon ship. There are no more actors to replace me either, just an empty space, a tiny, miniature dot, right where Piers van Looy used to stand.
These images (and those from the cute baby christmas update) are part of a year long project called ‘baby steps’. Each month will focus on a new theme & colour palette that reflects the time of year. The series will also document baby J’s growth and progress through the stages of babyhood. For January we chose nature and newness; this is the start of baby J’s story and shows her first tentative experience and interaction with the outside world.
Over the past month or two, i’ve been struggling to wrap my head around the various intricacies of web design and hosting. Understanding code is like watching David Lynch films; you get the basic premise, and some bits almost make sense, but generally it’s just a dense confusing mess. Despite having a fair bit of practical hardware and software knowledge, the whole process turned out to be really arduous; I don’t understand C+ and my HTML skills leave a lot to be desired (That said major props to ye oldie Myspace for encouraging obsessive HTML customisation among its users!).
‘Internet stuff’, it turns out, is the proverbial ‘can of worms’ I wish I had never opened. After a bit of research however, I successfully narrowed down my options to:
1.) Learn to code, build a site from scratch, buy hosting and upload (Approx. time: 5+ years)
2.) Build a website with Adobe Muse, a web page toolkit for designers and people afraid of code (Approx. time: 1 month)
3.) Shell out 5 quid a month for portfoliobox.com, an idiot-proof browser based portfolio builder (Approx. time: 1 day)
Now the last thing I want to do is alienate the intelligent people, but option number 1 is about as realistic as Vladimir Putin on fishnet tights and attending a LGBT rally; it’s simply never going to happen. So after spending a few hours watching Muse tutorials, I downloaded the free trial and had a go. At first it was pretty confusing but the interface is simple and you can tell the software was designed with the usual Adobe ‘layer’ based graphic designer in mind. It lends itself towards vertical scrolling, flashy info-based websites, and does a great job at covering all creative bases and options (such as parallax scrolling, mobile/tablet formats & various widgets such as maps & slideshows).
Unfortunately, getting Muse to display images properly requires a lot of tweaking. The full-screen slideshow is about as dependable as a middle-class alcoholic on new years eve; nice to look at and fun to mess around with, but absolutely terrible at keeping resolutions. Whilst this is an incredibly useful program for those who are willing to master it, the promise of a responsive, bug free portfolio website requires greater skill and patience than I currently possess.
My last option, portfoliobox.com, was picked out of a number of similar online services (such as 4ormat, carbonmade and wordpress). Unlike its competitors, this site seemed to be fairly new and genuinely interested in providing a useful service to it’s customers. Many photographers I know personally use 4ormat for their online portfolios (all really nice, intuitive and blissfully simple!) but I can’t help but feel the three-tier pricing plan is fairly ridiculous and betrays a profit-centric business ethos. portfoliobox.com offers a single pro account and a one-time annual subscription that avoids artificial restrictions on service and does not pressure you into upgrading or buying add-ons (unlike the many arbitrary widgets and ‘web-bling’ offered by wordpress.com).
Without delving into each and every feature, portfoliobox.com is absolutely fantastic for displaying visual work of any description. With the many well organised typefaces, colour schemes and layouts available it’s easy to give your site an unobtrusive style that is consistent with your content (this is the single most important thing for any portfolio!). You will never have full control or be able to create an entirely unique site, but all the important elements such as Search Engine Optimisation, meta-tags and password protected pages are all there. (It even has a helpful marketing to-do list built in with advice on topics such as google adwords and meta-tagging!).
So yeah, if you are thinking about putting together a site to show off your work, shop around and do lots of comparison, it’s easy to stumble across a site that offers everything you want, but there are many nearly identical services out there, so it pays to spend time making a decision. That said, if you do end up using portfoliobox.com, they have this referral scheme thing that gets you $10 off the price, just use any of the links on this page to take advantage of it!
Juggler: Luke Hallgarten
Filmed at Circus Space in London.
Music: Tearin’ it up – Gramatik
First time taking photo’s of small people! Let me know what you think in the comments!
Recently my life was not so much turned upside down as completely reset. Back to square one. Finished. It’s tempting to assign this to bad luck, but in truth my transition has been rather unique and totally predictable. It is the symptom of causality and circumstance. It is the contextual marriage (and subsequent divorce) of insular self and society.
In times of personal strife, we tend to reflect inwards upon our own inadequacies, and in doing so it’s easy to identify patterns that occur in our lives. I have low self esteem and find it difficult to form deep bonds with people, so relationships are, for me, a shortcut to happiness. They provide a social circle, a best friend, reassurance, validation. In short, they give me context and worth.
But love never lasts, and it is within this cruel truth that I have found my very own reset button.
First year, Leeds uni. I meet S and start a relationship. We never really fall in love, but we stay together for six months anyway. In those months I befriend her flatmates and become furniture in their collective lives. Cracks start to form, I make mistakes and we brake-up. To these friends, who I had started to build a life around, my worth was predicated on the context of S’ relationship, without context, I had no worth and was subsequently dropped.
I start going to circus skills sessions, become a member of the committee and meet R the social secretary. We fall deeply in love and spend the next two years establishing a ‘power relationship’. Everything about my life is predicated on my involvement with R, she runs the society, I help, she makes friends, I make friends through association. Slowly but surely I build up a vivid life of friends, work and responsibility. For a while everything is great. Despite all this, I, once again, make a number of stupid mistakes and we brake up.
This time it’s different, not only do we finish, but I also finish my degree and (due to lack of funds and work) move back down south to live with my parents. I lose my responsibility as committee member, I lose my social circle, I lose work contacts and I lose independence. Most of all I lose context and with it, the self-worth I had slowly built up and learnt to rely upon.
Now my life is reset. I am penniless, without close friends and ultimately divorced from my own reality. I see myself as I am; a crust that forms upon the surface of other peoples lives, waiting to be cleaned, waiting to build up a meagre existence elsewhere. Truly, I don’t blame this on the break-up, we had an amazing two years and I will always treasure those memories, but the process has cast brutal, cold light upon the intrinsically compromised nature of my life. The black dog of depression and anxiety has bestowed me with a number of relationships. It has, with a smile, wrapped the wound of self-hatred with a bandage of love, but the injury itself will never heal.
Like victims of trauma, drug addicts and fetishists, the guilt and shame of fulfilling our very own self-destructive prophecy only acts to reinforce these tendencies. After S I went looking not for love, but for context and worth (it is a happy coincidence that I found all three) but it is a dangerous thing to establish the temple of life upon the frozen lake of affection, for one day that lake will thaw, and your foundations will come crashing down around you.
After speaking about this with others, I was given a simple, yet unequivocally brutal quandary; ‘What do you want?’ – It is the quintessential dilemma for the lost and the hopeless. It is the tantalising question without an answer, it is the fantasmatic solution that dangles out of reach. I thought I had reached a resolution (“I want her back”) but I realise now the question is the answer, for I was not asking what I want, but why I want. I don’t want Rowan back, I want my life back, and the only way I’m going to get it is by myself.
The harshness of this solution has always been apparent to me, ever since I found escape from bullying in the love and adoration of another, ever since I learnt from the age of fourteen that nothing else matters as long as you have that connection with someone. But I am no longer a teenager, and adult life cannot be escaped. I now know that to be truly grounded, established, wanted and of worth to others, I must first be of worth to myself. There is no other way.
And so I start building, from scratch, a new temple. One with solid foundations, one which will stand the test of time. Embracing this is difficult as it is a daunting task, there are few jobs that require my skills, and it will probably be a long time before I achieve the same level of independence and involvement I had previously, but I can no longer afford to think of this as an end; it is a beginning, and it’s about time I got started!
NOTE: I enjoy writing and it can be extremely cathartic translating emotions into words, so i’m sorry if this post is a bit melancholy or self-involved, but i’m not writing for you, i’m writing for me. So ner.
Russell brand, comedy politician or preacher of the religion of the human condition? Devout believer of true virtue without god, or unwelcome dissident to established British politics?
….Faith and risk? or capital and security?
The entire of human history can be summarized within the lifetimes of a few great men, is Brand just another ‘great man’ in an unbendable ‘paradigm’, destined to fulfill the almost prophetic vision of the human condition? Is Charlie Booker’s ’15 million merits’ an accurate indication of Russell’s inevitable trajectory, where dissidence, controversy and a common ideological enemy pave the way to success within the system? (Much like Truman/Bush/Obama and indeed Hitler’s war on communism/drugs/terror and the Jews)
Or is his message of deviation the first step into a higher, evolved plane of social existence that comes not from egoism, but altruism? Radical social evolution is not such a crazy concept, after all who are we, who have made so many mistakes in the past, to put an assumptive cap on what is possible? Let us not make the mistake of thinking that there are no more mistakes to make!
I honestly didn’t want to jump on this bandwagon, at first I wanted to slate Brand for not only knowing nothing about politics, but inspiring a generation of youth to satisfy the safe, manageable criteria for western political dissent (in a classic Hegelian dialectic where protest, and the improvements in the system brought about by protest, simply empower politics to be even more pervasive and controlling than before, what is a perfect political system if not a populaces self-imposed subjugation and abandonment of individual agency?)
Is a perfectly adjusted political system beneficial to the individual human spirit or is it beneficial to society? which is more important?
It’s the deviation from the norm, the rejection of politics for the masses which make Russell’s alternative ideology so seductive, yes it’s scary, yes its highly unfeasible and YES politics is a system designed to reward participation (indeed many civil issues can easily be righted if we engage with politics as a tool to be wielded!) But it is still a feasible, immediate and achievable ‘other’; it is the grass on the other side, it is the promise of instantaneous escape from an empirically imbalanced capitalist system where the top 1% retain 80% of all global wealth.
Irrelevant of logistics, outcomes and generalisations, there is not a single low-income individual who does not value the concept of a society where worth is determined by human contribution, not capital, and it is a fact that such a noble, yet unrealistic zeitgeist seems more achievable through dissent than enthusiastic contribution. Achieving such radical change and redistribution of wealth (and indeed thought) through the current system will take time, possibly more time then we have on this earth, and there is no promise of success
So we are presented with an ultimate question, do we endure, enthusiastically, for the sake of not only our children, but a balanced and involved political system? Or do we break the mold by refusing to participate in certain aspects of commerce, a blanket strike action designed to cleave the bloated excess of consumer industry from the sacred body of man?
Faith? or capital? The choice is yours.