Menu Close

Tag: Art

The Other Side of the Cart

While in Maryland over Memorial Day*, Sarah, Hannah, and I shot a quick and dirty little video. Friday, while hiding from the rain and completely bailing on the first day of this year’s Governor’s Ball (OH NO WE MISSED KINGS OF LEON BARF), I decided it was a good time to throw it together. Nine hours later, the video above was birthed into the world.

You know, these things are funny. I always think to myself, Oh no, this is going to take like an hour tops, but then I am such a perfectionist I end up spending an entire day tweaking and noodling and getting everything just right. I guess that is better than putting shitty, unfinished work out into the world.

Anyway, enjoy! And laugh. And, if you don’t laugh, FAKE IT AND LAUGH ANYWAY.

*Note: I’ve finally hammered down in my brain which is Memorial Day and which is Labor Day. Good for me!

The very first piece of The Black Laser fan art.

Holy fucking shit ass. Is this not the awesomest thing ever? The answer is, “Yes, indeed, Space Pope, this is the awesomest thing ever until you tell me about the next awesomest thing ever.” Goddamned right, subject. Don’t be jelly just because I have fan art and you don’t.

The piece was done (with only minor suggestion by yours truly) by Oz Haver. Click his name to see more of his work.

A Bunch of Things I Want but Absolutely Do Not Need, a Bunch of Things I Probably Should Get but Don’t Feel like Dealing With, and a Bunch of Things I Need.

I am a man of few wants and fewer needs. I am low maintenance and easy to clean up after (which is nice because I’m the one cleaning up after myself). I do not typically spend a bunch of money on random things or things that have limited potential usefulness. I always prefer to purchase things that are useful and creative and inspiring, but the problem is that when I look at this sort of purchase I’m a “spend the money once and get the right thing” sort of dude rather than the “I’ll get the inexpensive thing now and upgrade later” sort of dude. This is a double edged sword in that the things I want are awesome and will work well and last, but they are costly. Sometimes embarrassingly costly. What can I say? I have expensive taste.

Ironically this post comes at a time when I am in the worst financial shape since I lost my job last summer. After taking most of the summer off, traveling, playing way too much, not working a minute, visiting with friends, concerts, drinks, dinners, bottles of wine on the river, tacos, and whatever the hell else, my poor bank account is left ravaged and my credit cards are left swollen, bloated, corpulent things demanding my blood and tears. I have just enough cash for rent, which is nice, but I won’t be playing for a few weeks until I get paid again.

Thank Jesus for work. Oy.

But when I do have some reserves again, there are a few things I want, a few things I should deal with but can’t be hassled, and a smaller list of things I absolutely need.

Let’s start are the most ridiculous shall we?

• Leica M7

If you follow me on Twitter or if you are a fan of mine on Facebook (why are you not doing both????), then you’ll know that yesterday I posted a link to an eBay auction for a used Leica M7 in excellent condition with the box. The photo above was stolen shamelessly from the auction.

The question was asked why I needed another camera body. Indeed, why did I need a used 35mm film camera body sans lens that eventually sold for 1681.00 +16.00 shipping? I reply that to ask the question is to display an essential lack of understanding of the issue at hand. I look at it as concerning two things: quality and simplicity. As you know from reading my photography posts, I’ve been shifting toward a prime-lens-only style of shooting over the last couple of years. Again, simplicity and quality. Prime lenses allow me greater image quality while being simpler and not getting in the way of me getting the shot. My trio of 28mm, 50mm, and 85mm primes cover 98% of the shooting I do. I have (and rarely use) a bunch of other lenses, but the three mentioned are my go to guys all the time.

Can I not achieve good quality with a regular camera? Probably, yes. Must I use a film-based, Leica rangefinder? No, I don’t, but where’s the fun in that? The advantage of a film Leica over, say, my current Canon 5D II, is that the Leica, properly cared for, will never stop working. Eventually the 5D II will be superseded by the next cool ass thing that comes out and that by the next and so on and so on. But with the Leica, as film technology advances, all you have to do is buy new rolls. Done and done. And, no, film’s not going anywhere, people.

Another thing you probably don’t realize about the photos I’ve posted for you is the sheer amount of monkeying around that goes on between capture and output. I shoot everything as RAW files and process every single photo on my computer before you ever see them. With a lot of photos it can become a serious amount of time we’re talking about just to get the photos to a place where I am happy with how they look. Of course, I enjoy this process, but it’s also distracting in the same way that zoom lenses are distracting: too much noodling, not enough decision making. I can change anything and everything as long as I exposed the photo appropriately. There’s no point at which the photo is finished. I can tweak and tweak and tweak until my brain explodes. That is a hindrance. It slows me down. I could shoot JPEG like a fool, but that’s stupid. Never.

Film provides proven, unerring quality, but with most of the salient decisions already baked into the negative. Yeah, sure, I could scan the neg with a drum scanner and tweak in Photoshop or whatever until I’m blue in the face, but that’s not my intent. If I want to do that sort of shooting, I’ll use the 5DII. What I want from the Leica is simplicity but quality and enough control to make it do what I think it should. Sure, I could use some shitty little digicam (more on that later) and it would be simple, but the photos would be of poor quality. Inferior. I could carry around a view camera and achieve startling quality, but that’s not simple at all. I’m going to extremes here, but you get my point.

Of less importance, but still part of my decision making, the Leica is inconspicuous. If you were some shlub on the street and you saw a dude wandering around with his Leica around his neck, you probably wouldn’t identify it as a surprisingly pricey camera. (Note to thieves: find the Leica M9, those go for like 9 grand) You can point it at people in the street and because it’s not much larger than your average point and shoot, people won’t be put off by you pointing a lens in their direction. Conversely, if I’m wandering around with my 5D II and giant, white 70-200 f/2.8, people notice. You can’t point that thing at anyone without them noticing. It’s like pointing a huge, white, glass and metal hard-on at someone: obvious.

Nevertheless, the next time I have 4500 bucks to spend on a Leica and 50mm f/2 combo, I’m going to. It just doesn’t make a whole mess of sense at this point. The good thing is, if I ever want to sell it down the road, I should be able to sell it for about what I paid. Killer.

Price: $1600-2500 (body only)

• Fujifilm FinePix X100

Oh god, what, another camera? For serious? Another rangefinder, this one digital, with a fixed focal length 35mm equivalent non-interchangeable lens?

Yes. For serious. Hear me out.

I’m not usually excited about product announcements during tradeshows. They’re often just updates of last year’s myriad consumer-grade, multicolor piece of shit models or they’re middling updates of last year’s low-end DSLRs or they’re significant upgrades to camera systems in which I’ve not invested or they’re some ludicrously expensive medium-format niche drool-worthy piece of kit. None of those things are my usual purchase areas. But recently I’ve been thinking about picking up a pocketable camera to take out with me so that Michael and I can continue to create Yeah Du’s.

And then they announced this little guy, supposedly available early next year. It features an APS-C sized sensor (awesome for a small camera) and a fixed-focal length lens. You read that right. Not a zoom in sight here. And who needs one? Distractions! So I’m considering this thing seriously next year when it comes out and I’ve been able to read the reviews. Of course, it will cost me about 3 or 4 times what some piece of shit Point & Shoot would, but you pay for goodness. And I bet it shoots RAW. God, I hate JPEGs.

Price: $1000 (estimated)

• The full printed version of the Oxford English Dictionary

Does anyone besides maybe a library actually need a 20-volume version of the dictionary comprising of some 21,768 pages? Of course I do. Don’t be silly. Don’t forget the 3 volumes of additions since the main version was printed.

English is a dynamic and interesting language. Constantly changing, evolving, picking up pieces from other places, and discarding parts it no longer needs, it has become a vibrant tapestry of history and human culture. The OED doesn’t just define words. It also explores their etymologies, which, for a great big word dork like me, is exciting as fuck. I bet no one has ever described a dictionary as exciting as fuck before. You saw it here.

I would love to have this mammoth stack of books just sitting around my house. Relative volume to me Brooklyn apartment be damned.

Price: 995.00 (main edition) + 215.00 (additions) = 1210.00

• A new laptop

I was going to put this in the above section because it is going to end up being so expensive, but it’s actually more appropriate here. My current laptop, a late-2006 MacBook Pro, is showing its age. I’ve replaced basically everything on it: the screen, the hard drive, the ram, the optical drive. It’s been carried all over the place for years. It’s been dropped out of the back of a car resulting in screen and case damage, the latter of which I ended up bending back out with pliers. It’s funky, it’s dirty, the screen has dark patches. It’s been well used.

But none of these are compelling reasons to replace the thing. The only reason this is a “probably should get” and not a “want” is that I really do use it for work all the time and the poor little guy just isn’t up to the task of editing high quality, high definition material. It kicked ass when all I had to throw at it was standard def NTSC. But throw some 1080p/24 ProRes HQ shit at it and it explodes. This summer when I was in California I spent some time finishing up the Atmospheres videos for Arian. On my computer at home, they were handled with ease, but on the road on this laptop things quickly spiraled into darkness. Every time I made a tweak, I’d have to re-render. Each render took over an hour. Little things that would have taken me an hour or two in my apartment took me over 18 on my mom’s kitchen table. That’s just not ok. If I use the thing for work, it needs to be able perform up to the task.

Then there’s the issue of the photos. This guy used to handle my old 20D files with zest and flair, but when I got my 5D II and this was still my main computer, I started to see that it was getting long in the tooth. It chokes on those 5D II raws. Just chokes. That’s not work, but it’s a drag. Not compelling, but it adds to my reasons to replace it.

And I think I might go 17″ this time. I’ve always thought it was too big to carry around, but I don’t carry mine around that much anymore. Typically when working somewhere, I bring it on the first day and leave it there until I’m done. So the added weight of the 17″ won’t be a huge factor. Besides, I’m a big enough sort of dude, so fuck it, right? I also like the greater screen real estate and that it was an ExpressCard slot.

Price: $2599.00

• Bicycle

Remember all my blah blah blahing about how I wanted to get a bicycle earlier this summer? About how I was going to ride it around Brooklyn and overcome my fear of getting brained on the sidewalk after being sideswiped by a bus? Well, I am still utterly bike-less. Dumb, right? I even have space in my building’s backyard to store it safely. Yet I am unable just to pull the trigger and get one. Come on, Joe. Just do it.

Price: ~$150-250

• Coffee table

A few months ago I moved into this apartment and furnished it partially with the things I felt most important: sofa, kitchen table, kitchen island, tv stand, bed frame. Some things we neglected, or, rather, were low priority so I felt I could wait on them. That was April. It’s now nearly October and I’ve not purchased any of them. One of the things I most need is a coffee table. I’d like one that is not too expensive, solid, between 48 and 60 inches long, and about 18 inches deep. It is surprisingly hard to find nice, skinny, inexpensive tables like that. I’ve seen some on the street but with the bed bug epidemic going around New York City, you need to be cautious when pulling in sidewalk furniture.

The picture I used above for illustrative purposes is actually pretty nice and quite close to what I’m looking for, but that one is 1200 bucks and way too many dollars. I saw one last week that was the right size and 117 bucks, but the top was made of this awful crushed pottery shit inlaid in cement or something. It would have been very uncomfortable to rest bare feet on. Close, but no dice. I mean, it doesn’t have to be SUPER cheap. I’m willing to spend up to 300~350 bucks if the table is fucking amazing. I’m not a cheap ass here, but my standards are also not very low.

The search continues. One day I’ll find the right one. One day when I have more than 10 dollars left in my pocket until the check that I’ve been waiting for since late August arrives in the mail.

Price: ≤ $350

• End tables/bedside table

See above. It would be nice to have a couple of these. You can never have too many places to put down your beer or remote or book or socks or keys or pencils or knives or really just another surface to collect dust.

Price: ≤ $50~75 ea.

• Lamps

Because overhead lighting is a drag, but so is sitting in the dark. I’ve been using a combo of overhead light from the other room, sunlight (when available), and lamp on the floor to light my house. It’s not ideal. Yet, I don’t want to just plunk down on any old cheap shit, tacky lamps. I want nice lamps that don’t look like they’re going to fall apart. I need a mix of floor lamps and table lamps, but I’ve just not yet found anything I wanted to spend money on.

For 6 months.

There’ve been a lot of dark ass nights in my place.

Price: who knows?!

• More pants

I’ve purchased pants twice in the last two years. The first time the lady at the store busted my balls for buying 34″ x 34″s because she said they were too long for me. But when I got the 34″ x 32″s home and washed them—KAPOW!—they became too short. But I liked the pants so much that I bought a few more pairs online at the correct size.

This summer, not needing a bunch of slightly too short pants, I turned them into shorts. Now it doesn’t matter that the original length was not satisfactory because the offending parts of the pants have been removed. But, it also means that I am down half my pants. With autumn setting in and winter coming, my “new” shorts, comfortable as they are, will no longer be appropriate clothing.

Luckily, I already know the kind of pants I want. If something works, why mess with success? These are easily the best pants I’ve ever owned and the only ones whose pockets don’t rip. I hate ripped pockets. The worst.

Now I just need to plunk down the cash and have some sent to me, but I’m lagging. Low priority, I guess.

Price: $40/pair

• A convenient mix of oxygen and nitrogen

Breathing is awesome.

• Something to eat

It doesn’t even have to be particularly good or fancy, just something that will satisfying my nutritional needs.

• Water

It’s good and good for you. You have to replenish the internal ocean.

• Shelter

Being rained and snowed on while trying to sleep is not a good recipe for staying alive.

• Sleep

Because it’s fucking weird when you’re no longer able to tell dreams from reality and you start to lose your mind.

A Peek Behind the Curtain – The Making Of…

In April or May, my friend Rodney contacted me about cutting together a video his friend Arian had shot.

This is not that video. Unfortunately for you all, that piece is still in wraps since he hasn’t launched the event associated with it yet.

Luckily for you all, Rodney did later ask me to cut together this simple little behind the scene film of him painting in the time lapse footage which can be seen on his site. It features music created specifically for Rodney’s site by his friend Asen James. The piece was shot by Arian. The time lapse was directed by Kareem Black.

[flv width=”560″ height=”447″]http://www.josephdillingham.com/files/BTS_FINAL.flv[/flv]

It’s not too complex, but it’s punchy and effective and nice and short. I think it does a good job at getting the idea across without ever becoming boring. It was a fun little piece to work on and I look forward to more collaborations with Rodney. This sort of thing is a lot of fun for me. He gets something and I get something. Good times for all.

The Amazing Painting of Jeremy Geddes

I first encountered the work of Jeremy Geddes, an Australian painter, with a series of zombie paintings he did. I would link you, but they are no longer on his site. Recently he came to my attention with his series of Cosmonaut paintings, each featuring a sole Cosmonaut floating in vaguely Christ-like poses through a variety of locales. I like them not just because they are masterfully executed but because you can’t really tell if the Cosmonaut is dead or just weightless. I like to think he’s dead, but that’s just me; I listen to metal.

Go on over to his site and check out the work.

While you’re there, I’d like this. Thanks. My birthday is coming up.

The Extraordinary Book Binding of Philip Smith

Speaking of books, I recently stumbled upon (without the help of StumbleUpon) the work of a British artist named Philip Smith who works exclusively in the bindings of books. As you know, a book is really just a stack of loosely connected papers until someone or some machine comes along and binds them all together. Usually a books binding is utilitarian at best, and shoddy at worst. Hard bound books are nice, if expensive, and then you have your mass market paperbacks which fall apart after 5 years because of cheap paper and cheaper glue.

Then you have artists like Mr. Smith here who not only return the craft of bookbinding to the highly-skilled artisanal place it held for centuries but add a surprising new dimension to it.

Here are a few favorites of mine from his site. See if you can guess which book each of these is. I promise there’s nothing esoteric here; these books can be found anywhere. Except maybe on Mars. For now.

Cool, right? I would LOVE to have one of these in my house on display. Talk about amazing art that would fit right in with my weirdo collection of things I like.

Head on over to the site to see if your guesses were correct. They’re all in the galleries.

Art is important for any home.

About a million years ago I went to the Guggenheim with my friends Chris and Ryan when they were in town for a little visit. We wandered into the permanent collection and saw what I consider to be the most beautiful painting ever created. This is it.

That’s right. It’s a painting of a lobster fighting a cat. By Pablo Picasso. Is it not the finest piece of artwork you’ve ever seen? The Guggenheim has a total bullshit write-up of the painting on their site, but I like to think that we’re seeing the result of kooky, old Picasso making something he thinks is funny for a friend. Like, “Hey dude, we’re friends, I made you this rad painting of a lobster fighting a cat. Sweet. See you later!”

I have a print of this painting hanging in my living room right now. It’s awesome.

I have some other art too. I have three small, original paintings by artist R. Nicholas Kuszyk of robots. Today I also purchased a print of a piece called “Zombies vs Unicorns” from Josh Cochran.

I’m pretty excited about this one. I definitely need to get it framed.

I also want to print out a bunch of photos nice and big and frame them and place them around the apartment. Unfortunately, Adorama is closed for Passover so I’ll have to wait a little bit. Not really a problem.

There has always been one piece of art I’ve never seemed to able to find as a decent sized print. It’s this.

Ok. Do me a favor and look at this painting. Do you see the surly clown sitting there having a drink, smoking a cigarette, and being ignored by the patrons? It’s totally awesome, right? I know. It’s a painting called “Soir Bleu” by Edward Hopper, who you might know by his iconic “Night Hawks”. The real painting lives at the Whitney here in New York and while I’d like to steal the original, I think I’ll make due with a print. The problem has always been that I’ve never been able to find a decent sized print of the work. I’ve seen posters, but those are lame. I’ve seen post cards, but those are tiny. But, I’ve never seen a good sized print.

Until today. While chit chatting with a friend on IM about artwork, I found that the Whitney will make me a 24×40 inch print for 85.00. Seriously? I’d be stupid not to do that. It’s absolutely worth the 85 bucks for something that big to put in my apartment. I think it would look magnificent hanging in my house opposite my Picasso. I’m not sure yet where the Unicorn and Zombie piece will go, but I’m sure I’ll find a home for it.

Are there any things you guys think I should add to my collection of decoration for my new place? Nothing make a home feel like a home as quickly as hanging things on the wall and having furniture. After a Saturday bonanza at Ikea, the latter is accounted for. Suggestions, friends?