The Mani II

Photography January 12, 2016

There is a gap between what I hope to know and what is captured.

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I find myself in that liminal, ambiguous space.

See the whole set; ‘Mani’

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Swarms: Marketing and Migrants

Essays, Writing August 18, 2015

David Cameron’s use of the word ‘swarm’ to describe the migrants desperately creating an existence at Calais has been remarked upon a lot, but it was a word which instantly set thoughts rolling for me as I have been reading Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi on that exact term.

In Uprising: On Poetry and Finance, he uses it to identify how groups of people act in hyper networked info-capitalism (1). What could be revealed by the use of the word in both cases? The more I look into it, the more both uses prove mutually revealing and the more they say about how connectivity really operates in this intensely networked society and economy. What I mean to say is, the usage of the term seems more than coincidental – it is informed by a common context even if it bubbles to the surface of discourse for very different reasons and for very different objects. That common context can be understood as the market and its role in shaping our society.

This is what I will explain with this blog post, and I hope by the end of it, I can stir some creative ideas about how we get beyond the ‘swarm’. Read More

House keys

Work in progress, Writing July 15, 2015

As the door closed, I noticed that I did not have my keys. The second when you realise that your plans have been fundamentally rearranged is one of suspension. It provokes a laugh. A moment of stillness before everything runs awry.

Locking myself out of my home today is nothing profound or major. I lost only a few hours. But I noticed that the moment of suspension, where the ridiculousness of your situation is revealed to you, is not much different to the same moment one experiences upon hearing life altering information. When we hear that we have lost more than just a few hours – a loved one, a dream, a home – that one split second is actually remarkably similar. Afterwards, it all rains down on us and laughter may abandon us for a long time, maybe forever.

I tend to err on the side of the absurd and I remember being in fits of giggles with my cousins as we rode to our grandfather’s funeral. Mainly because we were in a hearse. There is actually something hilarious about being in a hearse. Laughter and weeping seem to be a short flick away from one another.

I have had the privilege to often feel a strange kind of creative potential when things have gone awry. Or maybe it is a writer-photographer’s inclination towards observation at moments of heightened emotion. Being outside yourself as you experience life changing things is very elating.

In an attempt to gain access to my flat, I was on a train to pick up some keys. The Battersea development loomed to my right. What you can see there at the moment is an ultra-HD building site on a massive scale. The spokes and spikes and cranes and cords; the high vis-jackets and hard hats and fences and scaffolding; a whole mass of detail and structure. There are hundreds of glass panels, hundreds of concrete frames where balconies will be. The off-white chimneys of the old power station are set to be engulfed by a grey tide.

London is a tide itself and I am not a preservist. But those blank grey boxes seem to prophecy the empty spaces they will soon be for absent investors. Change is the nature of London, change is creative potential, but empty houses mean that someone has lost a home. Somewhere a life is going awry in a fundamental way, never to be hauled back to the promised framework.

Metaphor is knitted into the fabric of things – it’s only a matter looking at it in a certain way. As the train turns the corner towards Victoria station, a piece of graffiti reads: “It only takes a minute girl”.

For the powerful there are split second decisions that change everything. For the weak there are split second revelations that change everything. There is after all, the moment when something was possible, and the moment when it stops being possible. There is the closing of opportunity, and the asserting of one reality.  There is a liminal space within that moment in which strange things happen.

I’ve started writing about development in London because I think it needs to be visualised, and in a more simple sense, because I am starting to feel it. I am not the poorest, I am not the richest. I am very lucky, I have a good education, I have some debts. I come from a working class family that became to all effects middle class thanks to the last period of social mobility. I guess this set me up to be hyper-class-conscious (as you might call it). I’d rather say, I think empathy is everything that matters.

Now back in ‘my’ flat and with more to follow.

Taking the disposable camera backstage…

Photography June 30, 2015

I have an ongoing love affair with disposable cameras – the cheap kind with cardboard housing. I’ve used them for years to photograph my environment and things I see when walking around, but I wanted to see what would happen when I used them in the hectic and peopled world of the backstage of a catwalk show.

London College of Fashion, BA15 Catwalk. Madeleine Corcoran.

The beauty of the disposable for me is that they are so unassuming. Most people don’t notice you are taking a photograph when you use them, and even if they see the camera, they think it looks so simple and unprofessional that it must be meaningless. This means their reactions don’t change too much.

Also, of course, I love their limits: the grain, the faded or warped colours, the blurs and blocky depth. They are everything that an Instagram filter wishes it was.

London College of Fashion, BA15 Catwalk. Madeleine Corcoran.

The joy of handing in another disposable camera for processing – usually having forgotten what is actually on the film – is a fizzing, sherbert kind of excitement. When I pick up the prints, I consume them immediately –  standing in a Boots, or on an elevator into an underground station.

But it’s mainly all about the clicking – the little plastic shutter button just going click click click – consuming the world with my eyes.

It’s my way of connecting with the joy of making a photo.