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Archive for September, 2012

I’ve recently been reading Terry Eagleton’s book On Evil which, for something that is concerned with the awful atrocities humans are capable of inflicting upon each other, is surprisingly funny in parts. The basic gist of it is that there are two dominant ways of thinking about why people do bad stuff to other people. The first one is the traditional conservative viewpoint, which holds that some people are just bad, there’s not much point trying to reason about why they do the things they do, and there’s nothing to be gained by trying to rehabilitate them. Incarceration and punishment are the only legitimate responses, and in some cases, the ultimate punishment of death is warranted. This is a way of thinking that finds its most extreme form of contemporary expression in the use of the death penalty in the US, but it’s also what fuels those calls for longer and harsher prison sentences that we are all used to hearing. Eagleton cites the case of the police officer who arrested one of the killers of Jamie Bulger. The policeman remarked afterwards that when he looked into the boy’s eyes he knew immediately that he was evil. In other words, hang ’em high, but if you’re not allowed do that, then lock ’em up and throw away the key. (more…)

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This is Constellations, by Paperdolls, which is currently running at D-Light studios as part of Absolut Fringe 2012. I’ll attempt to describe what it is, but that won’t be easy as I really don’t know what it is; it slips outside most of the normal categories that you might use to describe something like this. It’s a dance piece that takes place mostly in the air. It’s an acrobatic display that eschews all the cheesy narcissistic showing off which that normally entails. It’s a piece of performance art that revolves around the use of Japanese rope bondage. It’s a gig with a full band (Wolfbait) in the corner who blast out terrifyingly loud and intense noise rock. It’s eerie and unsettling and totally unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

The photograph above is an exposure of 6 minutes and 17 seconds, and was taken during the first section of the show. I shot it during a dress rehearsal so for that reason you can’t see the audience in the shot. They would normally be sitting around on mats. Most of the cast are sitting still in the centre of the room for this part, while one of them has her arms tied behind her back.  She then performs various acrobatic exercises with a partner, while her arms are still bound in this way. There is a real tension during this section as you can’t help thinking that if she slips, she can’t even use her hands to stop her face hitting the ground. There’s a huge level of trust involved between the participants, and watching it is like being privy to some sort of intimate, normally private, ritual. Soon after this, the whole thing goes completely nuts, but the enjoyment of this thing is all about not knowing what is going to happen next, so I’m not going to spoil it. It runs until this coming Saturday and you can book tickets here. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Karolina at Blow Magazine and Emily and Fionnuala at Paperdolls for facilitating this. This photograph has just been published in number 4 of Blow Mag’s Absolut Fringe 2012 special editions. You can check them all out here.

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I took this photo at the dress rehearsal for Elevator, which is running at the Absolut Fringe 2012 festival. Doing these shots at theatre productions has turned out to be a little bit trickier than I initially thought. The concept is that the length of the exposure corresponds to the length of a scene, so each shot is therefore a photograph of a scene. The problem though is that many productions don’t have such rigid divisions into scenes, and even if they do, the transitions between them may not be at all obvious. I managed to nail the one above though I think.

Elevator is about a bunch of rich kids who have gathered together for a party when one of their number goes missing. All the action takes place in one room. There’s a lot of talking, flirting, arguing, partying, drug-taking, and recounting of debauched episodes from the past; and all of this is interspersed with musical numbers. The centre of the set has a huge couch that the actors sit on, lie on, dance on, and get off with each other on. Because the couch is a bright white colour, nothing in front of it comes out in the long exposure photograph, so it looks to me more like a dinner table than a couch. There are about seven actors in this photograph and they were all moving around quite a lot, so it’s pretty surprising that there is such clarity in it, and that at various points in the image, they can be made out very clearly.

This thing definitely has legs.

Thanks to Karolina at blow photo magazine, Louise at thisispopbaby and Ste Murray for facilitating this. You can see a whole bunch of great work that other photographers are doing at this year Fringe in blow magazine’s Absolut Fringe special editions.

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I haven’t posted any new pictures up here in some time. Summer is a pretty slack time for interesting gigs anyway so I decided to take a bit of a break from it for a while. I did go down to Cork last week though to take down the exhibition I had running in Plugd, and while I was there I took the opportunity to photograph Orchestra Of Spheres who were playing at the Half Moon theatre. It’s a pretty cool venue for a number of reasons beyond the fact that it has a big stage, nice layout and good sound. Firstly, it has giant gargoyles sitting on top of the speaker stacks. Every venue should have this. Secondly, and of far more significance, it was the place that Guided By Voices played their one and only Cork gig back in 2002. I wish I hadn’t been told this, because even as I was sitting on the balcony thoroughly enjoying the completely intoxicating psychedelic tribal party music of Orchestra Of Spheres, I kept imagining that it was Robert Pollard down there singing Motor Away. Great gig though all the same, and thanks to Albert for this and many other things besides.

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