Category Archives: Photography

Wednesday Inspiration: Man Ray and Surrealism

Noire et Blanche, 1926This photograph by Man Ray encapsulates the inspiration of the time that pervaded the visual arts, literature, music and thought. In this photo, the use of the mask brought over from somewhere in the continent of Africa shows what stimulated the abstraction that would soon give way to Cubism.

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What’s new in design this week: TODO and IDS14 in Toronto

The DNA of this blog is composed of art, culture and design and it continues to be. Toronto is the hotbed of this trinity this week with the Interior Design Show and the Toronto Design Offsite Festival with various venues and points of focus. Designers, artists and their disciples will flock to Toronto’s cultural centre with installations and events all over Dundas West, Queen West, the Junction and other neighbourhoods.

Design and art aficionados will find their fix starting tonight with the launch party at Smash in the Junction starting at 8 p.m. Dear reader: if you are up for it, there’s a free (!) Letterpress Card-making Workshop at Graven Feather (906 Queen Street West) starting at 6 p.m.

The Junction will be the place to visit tonight with the above mentioned TODO Launch Party at Smash. My favourite art supplies shop, ARTiculations (2928 Dundas St West), will host an opening reception for the exhibit Accumulation by Christine Kim starting at 6 p.m. It’s all about investigating and experimenting with lines, light and shadow. Toronto’s beloved design shop Mjölk will host to Stockholm-based Italian industrial designer Luca Nichetto. If you’re a coffee fiend like I am, you might find a new toy that would enable your brewing vice with a new collection of accessories inspired by Italian coffee culture. The reception starts at 7 p.m.

Come Up To My Room at the Gladstone Hotel starts tomorrow, Thursday, January 23. Installations by A0 (ALSO Collective + Mason Studio) and EYES ON DESIGN are my top picks to see.

To finish the week off, Interior Design Show (IDS) will be open to the public this weekend at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The two talks I will be attending are on Saturday, January 25. The first one with Sami Ruotsalainen of Marimekko and Andrew Sardone from the Globe and Mail at 12 p.m. The second is with Rafael de Cardenas from New York-based firm Architecture at Large in conversation with the Globe and Mail’s Style Editor Amy Verner at 4 p.m.

So, how’s your design week looking? Just grab some water, cash, your iPhone and you’re good to go.

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Brad Pitt for Chanel: What do you think?

So I hear that Brad Pitt is the new face of Chanel No. 5 and the iconic scent’s first male spokesperson. A question comes to mind: if the epitome of Eurocentric/American masculinity is used as a medium to question gender norms and conventions, is he biting the hand that feeds him? More importantly, did Mrs. Jolie-Pitt have a hand in convincing him?

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Existentialism in materialism, or A meditation on consumer goods

If there is one thing I love, it would have to be photography. The masters Henri-Cartier Bresson and Ansel Adams have a pretty fierce grasp of two heart strings right here (points to left side of chest). It is amazing what one can do with a piece of equipment, suspending one moment in time, to be relived over and over. It is magic, really.

Talking photography means talking about hardware. All the camera manufacturers in the world seem to quicken the pace at which their goods are produced and distributed, satisfying gearheads with every shipment to the nearest retailer. I’m not one to think of the good ol’ days because let’s face it, nothing gets accomplished and that is waste. However, there is also the adage ‘Haste makes waste.’ Could we apply it to today’s pieces of technology?

What is fascinating right now is the nostalgia that younger people have for a technology whose tail-end they caught: film or analog photography. Lomography has picked up with the sales of plastic cameras that take pretty funky images. Stores catering to the 12-25 set like Urban Outfitters carry cameras of the same nature. There IS an interest in film. Still.

So far, the camera that I have my eye out for is a compromise between analog and digital: the Fuji X100. I am certain that I am not alone. The camera is a beauty. Let’s not get too much into the specs but the camera physically is loosely based on rangefinder cameras from decades ago, only digital. The buttons are all manual (but with their automatic counterparts, for the lazy) unlike other digital cameras that have been designed and released thus far in the last couple of years. It may be the best compromise, so far with the convenience of digital and the regal appearance of a Leica. (A fundraising event is slowly getting organized for the 2011 holiday season. Let me rephrase that: for my 2011 holiday season. Cheques accepted but PayPal is best.)

The selling point of this camera is the old-school appearance but with the practicality its digital compatibility with our digital lives. At $1200, is keeping up appearances worth it? To some, yes. To others, no. The equipment that was once but a tool to capture images is now an image unto itself. It is like being caught between two mirrors facing each other, and the neverending hall of repeating reflections. Which is the original? No one really knows. The camera is only coveted until the updated version is available. Is that a waste? You decide.

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On the number 12

I don’t plan on making this temporary abandonment of Urban Peanut: A Gallery a habit, mind you. A lot has happened in the last month regarding design and my involvement in the industry, which is, by the way, up to this moment, a very good circumstance.

I have to meditate on the number 12, my favourite number. My partiality towards the number might have something to do with my birthdate. It is quite an important number for the vast majority of us. Months, disciples and doughnuts come in 12s. So did exposures on a roll of 35mm film, a long time ago.

The 12th of October also is the anniversary of Columbus’ landing in he Caribbean (BTW political correctness is not the focus of this entry), the birthday of Luciano Pavarotti, and marks the launch of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1979). It is  pretty important date in culture and human history.

For this year, the 12th of October, I anticipate, will also be an important day. It will be the day after Thanksgiving weekend. It will also be the day when my friends and family come together to celebrate me through song and food. An iPad is also an option. Thank you very much in advance. And dark chocolate cakes are most welcome.

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Writing with light

I wanted to share this ad for the Polaroid SX-70 camera out of nostalgia but also as a reminder of how tasteful advertising can be.

The music, colours and the fashions render the ad dated. However, the simplicity and beauty of the ad make the piece a short film worthy of re-watching, even just to relive the magical feeling when the ghost-like images appear on the iconic instant prints.

There is a lot of dialogue regarding the resurrection of Polaroid film. With the oversaturation of images around us, it feels like the cache of the Polaroid is out of fascination with analog, and not the appreciation for the process. People just enjoy contact with and the tactility of prints, like myself. I know that I am not alone.

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‘Coolness’ not for sale; on Leon Levinstein’s New York

New York City is a giant ball of energy that cannot be summed up in a few words. The streets hum with the eventual white noise that becomes that backdrop to the metropolis. It is the big city of big cities. Inspiration and aspiration become a two-headed mystical creature, fuelling people’s everyday grind.

The Metropolitan Museum’s permanent collection never ceases to amaze me. The standout exhibition, in my humble opinion is Hipsters, Hustlers and Handball Players: Leon Levinstein’s New York Photographs 1950-1980. I have never heard of the photographer nor of his work. However, upon entering the modest white room in the modern art wing of the expansive museum, it is clear that his work carries the grandiosity that would shame the biggest of installations.

I tried looking for more information on the man and found that there is very little known about the photographer. He lived a very  quiet and solitary life, continuously occupied with his work. He refused any prizes or any recognition from his contemporaries, a move so bizarre given the rise of commercial photography and the luxurious life that his fellow photographers led at the time. Here I leave his work to speak for itself, as he has during his lifetime.

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