Fires the Imagination

The Analogue Film Comeback

Having just stated that my own goals for 2015 was to do more photography with analogue film, the Financial Times posted up a video on Sunday about the resurgence in film photography. It is nice to see this as film manufactures continue to make 35mm and 120 film as long as their is a demand. I really miss a lot of aspects of film photography, if anything the anticipation of seeing the developed prints was truly magical, an element lost with the onset of digital. Film also forces you to make a tangible product even if it is only a slide. Tt exists in the physical world. There is certainly a satisfaction to seeing images in print rather than simply on a screen. If you have never taking photos on film, I hope this video inspires you to pick up an old film camera and experience this.

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Curious happenings at the remotest part of the day: 4am

I stumbled across this little gem a few months back while under the addictive influence of TED videos. Poet Rives has uncovered that 4am had impressed itself on the minds of many great creatives, when wanting to communicate that most unearthly hour of the day.

This nine minute clip is both funny and entertaining and highly worth watching.


This time of day has also clearly struck a chord with others. There is a whole Flickr group and project dedicated to this mysterious time of the day.

Maybe there is something in it, my routine sees me waking up most mornings at 5am to get creative space while the family sleeps but 5am is a barrier I cannot cross and equally if you try and approach this time from the other side, staying up until 4am is just as hard.

Incidentally if you enjoyed Rives you can find a few other great clips below:

If I controlled the Internet

A Story of Emoticons

Reinventing the encyclopedia game

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Kickstarter’s CEO Perry Chen and How Ideas Can Be Funded

In an era of global austerity there are still ways to fund your creative ideas. When it comes to funding, the paradigms are shifting. I’ve mentioned Kickstarter before, the site that uses the crowd funding model and draws on your fans to fund your visions and work.

Perry Chan the founder of Kickstarter recently gave a talk at DoLectures about the ethos and some of the projects behind Kickstarter. As usual my notes are below.



At a basic level, Kickstarter’s model is not new. 100 years ago it was common place for creatives to have the concept of subscribers. Much like magazine subscribers today, a creative’s fans would be subscribers, making a commitment up front that funded the ongoing body of work. In exchange for that commitment, subscribers would get first, or often exclusive, access to the work being funded. Kickstarter reignites that philosophy and fund raising model.

Th most common amount donated on Kickstarter is surprisingly small. $25 is the most common donation, but it only takes small amounts like these to allow us to do disruptive work and enable more people to have the opportunity to create. Generally because of the economics of investment, needing to satisfy the investors expected financial returns, investment has only been available to larger, risk free projects. Kickstarter changes this by bringing together many small investments. When the investment is small we can be more personal. We are happier to take the risk based on whether we like the person, whether we like what they say or what they are creating.

A unique effect of this is this is that Kickstarter allows projects with no ambition to generate a profit, find funding. In theory, this leads to more innovative work and the fruition of ideas that may never have traditionally seen the light of day. As long as the project has a following that is happy to fund the idea, it can have legs.

Multiplied together, many of these small investments can have huge value and finance fairly large projects. Over last 3 years:

  • 1 million people $95m pledged on kickstarter
  • $35m film and video
  • $20m music
  • 8 design
  • 6 art
  • 5 publishing
  • 3 food, tech and photography
  • 1 games. theatre, fashion, comics and dance

In addition to the financial gains of using Kickstarter, a byproduct of the crowd funding approach is that many of these projects have gained new followers.

Kickstarter is by no means a garanteed funding route. You need to have an established following that is will ing to support and promote your ideas, for your Kickstarter project to gain traction. In this day and age when traditional funding streams are disappearing, sites like Kickstarter are an exciting and obvious alternative path to realise your ideas.

You can find out more about Kickstarter here.

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Inspiration: Alex Katz at Tate St Ives

I have been meaning to share more of others’ work, that I find inspirational. Helen and I had a rare child free morning last Saturday so we headed to Tate St Ives. Tate are currently exhibiting the work of New York painter Alex Katz, showing a collection of painting spanning from his early work in the 1950s right up to very recent large floral work.

Alex Katz’s landscapes, portraits and floral paintings are made up of large areas of flat colour which given them a very graphic style. Born in Brooklyn in 1927, Alex started painting in the 1950s. He attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan in Maine and still today spends his time between New York and Maine where he paints his large scale paintings.

It was great to visit the exhibition, his work is inspirational. Some of the key pieces for me were his portraits of his wife Ada, such as The Black Dress, 1960 (below) and his recent floral images such as Wildflowers 1, 2010 (bottom).

It you are in the St Ives area over the summer the exhibition is well worth a visit. The exhibition can also be seen at the Turner Contemporary in Margate in the Autumn.

The Back Dress, 1960

The Back Dress, 1960

Wildflowers 1, 2010

Wildflowers 1, 2010

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The New Street Art of Video Painting

SWEATSHOPPE is a new multimedia performance collaboration between Bruno Levy and Blake Shaw, who have created a new style of temporary street art they call Video Painting.

Video painting is a technology the duo developed that allows them to create the illusion that they are painting videos onto walls with electronic paint rollers they built. It works through custom software that they wrote that tracks the position of the paint rollers and projects video wherever they choose to paint, allowing them to explore the relationship between video, mark making and architecture and create live video collages in real time.

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The curious case of the princess, saint, mermaid and a chair

There she was again, her beauty was unforgettable. It must have been years since she had last attended service. She had caught the attention of the entire congregation when she entered the church accompanied by a force of wind and rain from outside. The villagers stared as she took her seat on a small chair at the back of church. They had seen her before, infrequently, over the years but they always remembered her ageless in her beauty and richly attired. She caught the gaze of the young chorister boy, Mathey, with flirting eyes as she sat. The last time the beautiful stranger visited, Mathey had been much younger but he had been transfixed by her beauty. She always made a hasty exit at the end of the service and on her previous visit, Mathey felt the urge to follow her. He may have lost his nerve last time, but now he was ready. As the service finished he faced his now or never moment and made a dash for it. The beautiful woman made her predictable hasty exit. This time Matthey followed.

That was the last the villagers of Zennor saw of the young chorister boy or the beautiful woman. Time passed but it was a foggy Sunday morning one spring when one of the local captains came running into the village. He had been fishing in Pendour Cove when a beautiful woman appeared from the watery depths. This maid of the sea had politely requested the captain raise his anchor as it was on her door. She was distracted, concerned about her young inside. The mariners, driven with fear, pulled in their anchor quicker than it dropped. As they swiftly returned to the harbour the captain was struck with a sense of deja-vu. Who was the woman in the sea? As the fog cleared the connection was made; she must have been the beautiful nympth that had enticed young Matthey Trewella away.

The villagers carved the chair where the mermaid had sat, A timeless reminder of the fate of the young chorister boy.

Up until now I have not posted anything about my passions for history and myth. The thing is these are two of my greatest sources of inspiration so sharing my thoughts and discoveries here is only logical.

Living in Cornwall I am surrounded by local myths and legends about giants, mermaids and saints. There is a rich tradition of stories interwoven into the places and landscape of Cornwal. What I find amazing is that a lot of them are barely known and poorly documented. One such myth is the Mermaid of Zennor, one of the most popular myths outside of Cornwall that has inspired works of art, poetry and literature over the last 100 years.

I have taken liberties to modernise the text above while trying to still preserve the detail. What I love about this myth is if you go back to the original texts, it is not conclusive that the mermaid is indeed the beautiful stranger, in fact the earliest known text writes that the woman and Mathey head inland over Tregarthen Hill. So this could easily simply be a love story about two lovers who elope “up country” and the case of mistaken identity by a drunken sailor. Who knows? but a local amateur historian, George Pritchard, tried to get to the root of the myth in 2002. He concluded that the author of the earliest text, William Bottrell, had likely created the myth himself. William Bottrell had visited the carved mermaid chair in Zennor’s church when writing his compilation of local myths and legends in 1873.

You may be wondering where a saint and princess come into this story, well this seems to be another case of mistaken identity. Earlier this year, Wikipedia presented on their homepage above legend, as that of St Senara, the patron saint of Zennor’s church. St Senara has her own fascinating legend that begins with her being a Breton princess, being thrown to sea in a barrel by her jealous husband the King of Goello, then floating to Cornwall and founding Zennor.

I investigated further and discovered the confusion dated back to a 2005 New York Times bestseller by Sue Monk Kidd titled “The Mermaids Chair” which was also made into a film. I asked Sue on Twitter about the link between St Senara and the mermaid. Sue is sure she found a link but was unfortunately unable to locate it.

This is why I love history it is one big jigsaw puzzle that you have to put together with missing pieces. What is particular interesting with this story is that it is a living example of how stories change over time. It is also a lesson in how you should never fully trust a Wikipedia article. Best of all however, is that Sue Monk Kidd was likely inspired by the same carved bench end, in Zennor’s St Senara’s church, that had inspired William Bottrell 140 years ago.

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