Shot the Hong Kong night skyline for a travel magazine a while back. It was my second visit to the former British colony yet I was still taken aback by the city’s intensity and variety.
I think I shot this with a Canon 1D Mk III or a 5D Mk II mounted on a Gitzo Exact Mountaineer tripod, which I to this day consider part of my go-to tools for serious projects. It’s lightweight, sturdy and reasonably fast to extend.
Another Easter begins. The above piece, “Herman’s Pseudonym (Mark I)”, refers to a Qigong instructor I was taught by a few years ago named Herman. He was good, but I found it peculiar that he demanded to be called “teacher”, like a pseudonym. I haven’t called anyone teacher since middle school and don’t understand why using his given name Herman could have rendered my impression of his teachings any differently.
Still way too much mysticism and cure-all fairy dust spread by Qigong “masters”. At its core, Qigong is basically a series of movements and poses which improve the circulatory flow of blood oxygen, and joint fluids.
While the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine kerfuffle continues to unfold, there’s still no solid news on when and where inoculations will be offered for my age group in this part of Sweden. Very confusing. I wouldn’t mind flying over to New York or even L.A. just to get my jabs.
I’ve been exposed (but not completely unshielded) to potential infections for more than a year without getting sick. I did have a few days with some respiratory issues last summer. But as it was the only potential symptom from the virus, I didn’t feel inclined to get tested. Later, in early fall, Charlotte and I tested negative for antibodies. Go figure.
I’ll continue to be careful, but the pandemic is becoming increasingly strenuous.
In my childhood house on Alfred Street in Los Angeles, the walls were covered by literally hundreds of paintings. Far from all, but many had religious motifs and were often dark, gloomy portraits of Jesus in various stages of crucifixion. The artworks in our home had been collected by my father during his tumultuous gallery years and when he abandoned the family in 1969, these dreary paintings loomed on our walls for many years to come. Unsellable and obviously a painful reminder of my parent’s relatively short-lived marriage and its dramatic dissolve.
I mention this as it might explain why I am so much in love with colorful, nonfigurative, and semi-abstract motifs in my own artwork.
A collage of photographs from a traditional wedding, a shopping street, and a Buddhist shrine in Tokyo. Japan is high on my list of places I’d like to return to once travel is possible again.
By far my all-around favorite country, Sweden is nonetheless also home to really imaginitive passive-aggressiveness. This collage is dedicated to all of us that often forget to put that little plastic separator on the conveyer belt between our food and the customer waiting behind us at the local grocery store. The condescending, authoritative look you get – often with a snarky smile – as he or she evenhandedly places the separator at just the right distance to your last item, is priceless. Would make for a great exhibit idea.
Brain fog. Long covid. Quattro Stagioni. Kim Jong-un. Musk’s exodus to Mars. Arthritis. Superficiality.
There are so many things I still don’t understand. Especially Quattro Stagioni. How can you mix four kinds of cheese together on a pizza and still expect to be taken seriously?
But on a more serious note, how can NK’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, clearly a textbook megalomaniac with official joviality, be allowed to govern over so many millions of people and be given inherited access to a military arsenal which could easily annihilate most of South Korea and possibly even Japan and the US?
Then there is art.
This new piece bears the title “Unknown” because I wanted it to symbolize my embrace of the process in which it was created. I seldom know beforehand how anything I do is going to turn out. I don’t pre-visualize what the end result of what I write, film or photograph will be. I might have a rough clue or expectation, but mostly, when I’m finished, it’s an intuitive feeling, a voice (or, a deadline), that tells me I can’t take the process any further.
By accepting and enthusiastically welcoming the unknown, the puzzle, maze or riddle never gets boring.
Society is too focused on predictions.
Where is the UN?
If there is any tangible benefit from our endless traveling for the last 25 years, it’s feeling sincere empathy for the people we’ve met around the world, especially when they are in trouble.
The nature of war is to slaughter. Alas, the nature of the soldier is to unequivocally obey the orders of his or her superiors. But it is a learned nature, not a natural one. Emotions are systematically amputated. through threats of physical and mental reprimand and punishment.
Only once such obedience has been instilled can soldiers beat and execute civilians without remorse or regret. All they have to do is wave the flag of duty and obedience. No different from any other era in human history. We have not evolved much, despite high-flying thoughts of ourselves and our in essence superficial accomplishments.
These skulls were captured near a place in Cambodia called “the killing fields” where millions of people were murdered during the brutal regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. I’ve published this image before, but when I saw it just now, it reminded me of a quote I like to recite. The image illustrates it perfectly:
I believe in life before death.
Now, does this mean I don’t believe in life after death? Or, just that whatever happens to us after we die should in no way be confused or conflated with what being alive is like? I haven’t given it much thought.
The quote was “given” to me by an old friend and whenever I’m at a crossroads or ambiguous about taking “a plunge”, I try to remember his quote.
I’ve not posted about it before, but about a month ago, I was accepted/invited to join the Swedish Artists’ Association, a society of artists of which Eva Bonnier, Bruno Liljefors and Carl Larsson were members.
I’m reminded of Groucho Marx’s quote about joining associations: “I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members.”
Initially, I was dubious about joining. Would it be a club for mutual admiration? Or, would there be some tangible benefit? Perhaps my art would have some kind of seal of approval because I was a member. We’ll see.
The new piece above is called “The Scream of Approval” and represents how I sometimes feel when the over-analyzing gets to me.
Here’s a new piece called “Flushed”. It’s dreamy and has several ingredients that I used because they somehow reminded me of a recent interview I heard with Amanda Knox. Amanda is the American exchange student that was accused of murdering her roommate, Meredith Kercher from Great Britain. Knox was definitively acquitted by the Italian Supreme Court, but after watching the documentary (Netflix), I couldn’t shake off an inkling that she and perhaps all involved in the case, were concealing something. That her plea of complete innocence was at least partially disingenuous. As someone close to me pointed out, Amanda Knox is super manipulative. It’s as if she’s flushed some evidence down the toilet. Metaphorically speaking.
From an early morning walk around downtown Hyderabad in southern India. Like in any big Asian city, walking around in the wee hours, before shops have opened for business and pedestrian and street traffic has yet to become overwhelmingly intense, meeting locals is easier.
Hyderabad is the joint capital of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states, and I spent about a week in rural areas of Telangana filming a demonstration of device-to-device wireless technology.
I’ve been to India a few more times after this scene was captured and have always enjoyed my visits, regardless of purpose or assignment.
“Palm Tree Pearls” is a new piece for my “Resurfaced” series. A collage of images shot in Southeast Asia during my lastest visit. Superimposing or blending photographs that individually have little emotional pull on me but that together create something interesting continues to fascinate me. The Resurfaced project has forced me to look at my world differently. To see the uniqueness in the mundane and discover compositions within compositions within compositions. The base image for this piece was a string of LED lights wrapped around the trunk of a palm tree. If you look carefully, you can see the inverted lights to the right in the painting.
I’ve gone cage diving with Great White sharks, ballooning at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, walked with lions in South Africa, and gone jogging in Death Valley California during a balmy 55C/131F morning. All exhilarating adventures that provided an adrenalin rush and a story to tell. But of all the more or less precarious things I’ve done so far, climbing up and down from the ridge of “Volcan de Pacaya” was definitely among the most treacherous.
I remember it being unbelievably steep and that there were no marked paths or signs after ascending from the tiny village below the mountain. But it wasn’t so much the walking on hot, edgy, razor-sharp lava rocks or, jumping over narrow streams of lava, which was not easy for a novice volcano climber like me. Instead, it was the gentle rumblings from within the volcano’s opening just a few hundred meters above that gave me the heebie-jeebies. What if there was an eruption while we were up there?
I’ve heard of a shop in Moscow where one could buy souvenirs from several famous destinations to give the impression to your guests and neighbors that you’d actually been there.
In the film Total Recall, customers of a virtual travel agency offered a neurological implant that could provide a wide range of false experiences.
Perhaps in the future, virtual travel will be the most reasonable way to travel. The most guilt-free, risk-free and cost-effective way to experience places in real-time. Hundreds of people would wear body cameras and have microphones streaming live video and audio from places like Paris, London, Moscow, Rio, Tokyo, and Mallorca.
Above: the piece to the left is called “Arrival: Val d’Orcia” and the one to the right is titled, “Arrival: London”. More of my resurfaced series here.
This was my view a few years ago below The Leaning Tower of Pisa after a weeklong visit to the Amalfi coast.
Some thoughts on Qigong which will hopefully clear up the mystical connotations associated with the practice.
Many new practitioners of Qigong have unreasonable expectations. These anticipations are often followed by disappointment. While Qigong provides many benefits, you should not expect the practice to be all-curing. It cannot be that. Qigong is not a religion. It is not your superhero.
Qigong can help you to achieve balance and harmony, inwards and outwards, through an intentional, holistic approach to life. First and foremost, practicing Qigong will provide valuable “tools” to maintain a balance, an equilibrium, between your mind and your body. The very meaning of the words Qi Gong means “energy gathering” or, “to work with energy”. Your body encapsulates a lot of energy. Qigong will not only help you release it but also spread it throughout your body and mind across time. This is achieved through movements, through stillness, and, arguably the most important of any conscious activity, breathing.
Qigong has many facets and paths to help you move forward in life. Start small and let it grow within you. By keeping your initial expectations at a reasonable level, you will certainly find that practicing Qigong is a powerful ally in your quest for health and clarity.
This is a new piece for my “Resurfaced” series called “Twenty Six” a composition of surfaces from a dozen different cities on three continents.
It’s a long time ago, but I distinctly remember thinking that when I turned 26, I had somehow reached “Peak Life”.
From 26 and onwards, I would be closer to 30 than 20 and, worse yet, I still hadn’t come up with a master plan. I was completely focused on surviving and trying to figure out how to make use of my creative abilities.
Today, at more than twice that age, I realize that I was thoroughly wrong about reaching Peak Life already at 26. Somedays, I don’t think I’m there yet…
This was my view earlier this morning. I shot it through a window using an old camera from 2013. A Fujifilm x20. Digital cameras don’t age very well, but the x20 is still fairly capable and useful. There was a beautiful full moon when I took the shot, but the camera just couldn’t capture it the way I’d seen it. So, I took a close-up of the satellite that orbits our planet with a 400mm lens and then superimposed it on the above composition. Deepfake or ShallowFake?
If you’ve seen the deepfake videos of Tom Cruise and know a little about the real Tom Cruise, you might find it interesting that the people behind these eerily accurate videos chose him as their subject matter.
Sometimes, the fog rolls in with impressive speed. A clear sky can within moments, not even minutes, be replaced with a thick, silent mist. The obscured view displaces my focus and leaves me feeling a bit perplexed, lost even. Then the levitating fog slowly rises and moves on.