Not Taking the Mickey? Stuff and Nonsense?

I haven’t done much this week other than work on a ‘film stills’ photo project. This has seen me, amongst other things, splatting fake blood onto my parents’ drive, gaffa-taping a monkey to my steering wheel in a public car park, projecting a silhouette of Mickey Mouse onto the side of a friend’s house, and visiting Tesco late at night to buy a long, black wig and a bunch of roses. This is great. So it’s been an interesting few days, and it’s a good job I haven’t had much proper – you know, paying – work, but sometimes you get lucky.

It’s finally all done, anyway. It’s about malevolent toys, and the flickr set is here. I haven’t properly named it yet, mainly because I can’t think of any atrocious puns. There’s gotta be something…It’s not due in till tomorrow, so I’ll see if anything comes to mind.

First week work

This is the final image from last night:

I’ve totally lost all perspective; I’ll see how it goes down in class.

Our theory module, meanwhile, is called ‘Technologies and the Self’. Here’s an excerpt from the first week’s required reading material:

Martin Heidegger has shown how modern science and technology are essentially defined by this mathematical character, and how this decision to decide things in advance of their appearance according to a pre-established criterion differentiates the modern scientific attitude from any scientific attitude which preceded it. Modern science is not simply mathematical in the sense of the application of numbers to nature – the Greeks, Egyptians, and Babylonians had already done so much earlier; it is also, and more profoundly, mathematical in its decision to regard nature as essentially numerical in character, and to subject the very appearance of things to numerical conditions. Galileo, speaking of the book of nature, says, for example, that ‘…[it] is written in the mathematical language,’ and in this respect what counts and matters about things is no longer how we sense them and make sense of them but how they accord with the web of mathematical relations we have already established for them.

Mustn’t pre-judge. Mustn’t pre-judge.

Screw it, I’m going to pre-judge. To the extent that I have any clue what the above means, it seems to get the scientific method backwards. Which, based on last year’s theory modules, is pretty typical.

In a few weeks, Lacan! He of the famous the-square-root-of-minus-one-equals-the-erectile-organ gibberish. Maybe he’s more sensible in other fields, though. Mustn’t pre-judge.

Lichtaffen Atomicus

Our second six-week project this term was to recreate a studio photograph, then make an interpretation of that image. I chose Philippe Halsman‘s jumping pictures, and made I think an ok recreation of this image of Marilyn Monroe (I haven’t checked whether the model minds me putting the image online yet). This was my interpretation:

Lichtaffen Atomicus

It’s an homage to Dali Atomicus, based around Albert Einstein’s nickname for photographers as ‘lichtaffen’ – german for ‘light monkeys’. The Einstein image is by Halsman too.

I kept friends and family up until late on a Sunday night trying to take this shot. I had my mother holding the chair, Abi throwing beads from one side, Ben throwing monkeys from the other and Dad trying to press the shutter at just the right moment. The project had to be on film, so we took about 70 shots on digital to get roughly consistent results, then 36 ‘blind’ shots on black & white film. My legs caved in a few shots from the end!

None of the shots came out quite as I wanted – in the above you can’t see the camera around my neck and the yellow beads are covering a little too much of Einstein – but there are so many variables that something’s always dodgy, and I’m happy with the end result. The final black and white print is different – I’ll get the negative scanned in at some point – but similar enough to the above that you get the idea.

We had the critical assessment yesterday and people seemed to like it, which was nice. I liked someone’s description of it as a ‘box of madness’ 🙂
Other final shot possibilities are here, and outtakes here. Thanks to everyone who helped with this – no way I could have done it without you!

Birthday Macaques

Thanks you to all the people who’ve left encouraging comments about my receiving an offer for the photography course. I’m still trying to decide what to do, but the support and advice is very much appreciated 🙂

I had a great birthday weekend. I’m currently listening to one of my presents: Jarvis. I’ve always admired his voice and songwriting style, although I only have the one Pulp album. I haven’t had a proper chance to get into this, his first solo project, yet, but I’m already in love with “I will kill again”. I also received Rodrigo y Gabriela, which I listened to while driving on Saturday and enjoyed, then played on my proper speakers this morning and was blown away. I can only imagine their guitars were designed for playing doorbell chimes at the gates of heaven. Wonderful stuff – many thanks to Skuds for plugging them on his blog!

Late last week I invited various friends to a party using the following ditty:

The 19th sun of the fifth month – it’s May!
bounds into the sky, screams ‘dude, I’m all yay!’
as at the hour of ten, in Dorridge-based houses
a group they do gather in glorious trousers.

They flee in their whizzers, across the country,
an hour they drive, and celibacy
isn’t a virtue nor even a crime –
forgive me my father I needed the rhyme –

and their journey resembles the Faraway Tree,
but less of dear Moon-Face and more of Monkey
Forest that they find with the use of their (wo)menthumbs
is swirling and gorgeous and not far from Trentham.

And evening: once the moon’s a mere whisper,
we’ll eat, therefore laugh (I am no sophister)
we’ll pierce the future with games (or a Ball),
so come one and all to the end of this
poem, with a cute little stanza that employs mis-
direction and know well if you can
come along, this lark it will rock: be better than

Slippy Sarah’s golden gherkin,
a menstrual minstrel’s mouldy merkin,
Roland Rivron’s lucky garter,
all nothing next to Andrew’s parter-y!

Which had the desired effect of appalling people sufficiently that they quickly replied with various levels of abuse, and on Saturday we headed out in an M6 convoy.

Monkey Forest, at Trentham Gardens near Stoke, is a free-range reserve containing 140 Barbary Macaques, of which only 10,000 exist in the wild. There are no barriers – the macaques regularly cross your path as you stroll around the grounds – and it’s surprisingly cheap: £5.50 per person is pretty good when you consider Warwick Castle is £13. I really enjoyed it. As well as the obvious attraction of (not actually) monkeys, the guides were knowledgeable and friendly, and with it being cup final day there were very few people around 🙂 I took over 150 photos with my cheapo 300mm1 lens and was happy with some of the results:

Just like us

The masseuse hits the spot

Macaque Yoga

This seemed bigger before. I don't know what happened.

I is Tarzan

One particular macaque took great exception to being photographed. I guess to him I’m the paparazzi. My favourites are, inevitably, the babies:

What is? Is for me?

Dual huntings

Oh dear

Macaque biologist

I wanted to go on the nearby Aerial Extreme rope course, but it turned out to take 90 – 150mins to complete, so I decided against it. I’ll just have to go back! After this it was back to a friend’s house to do very silly things with another of my presents: a remote-control Dalek:

Uninvited Guest


It has a button specifically for ‘EXTERMINATE’. It is fun times.

I had an excellent day, with wonderful company, great cookies and some very exciting presents. I must say a big thank you to the extremely kind online chum who bought me the surreal DVD – I’m very much looking forward to watching it! I am a very lucky person all round.

  1. 480mm with my 300D’s cropping factor []