Monthly Archives: April 2013

New King Of The Netherlands

Hurray

Thirty three years ago today, in 1980, I was at the Blauwbrug in Amsterdam, chucking bricks at the riot police. I was a squatter and our slogan was ‘Geen Woning, Geen Kroning!’ (No Home, No Coronation) as there was a great shortage of affordable housing, especially for students. Beatrix’s coronation was a great opportunity to make our point and we did. It was not a protest against her as a person, the monarchy is largely irrelevant in Holland, but against the political and capitalist systems that allowed and promoted the building of huge office complexes that remained empty (and some of them still are today!) as there was more profit in doing that instead of building the houses that were really needed.

Things have changed a bit since then, I daresay I have changed, although not in too many important ways. I now watched the balcony scene live on the BBC with the new King Willem-Alexander, formerly known as ‘Prins Pils’, (Prince Beer) and his photogenic family waving to the adoring crowd below. I felt detached from it all and not just because I live in the UK now. The important thing about today is the party. I am looking forward to coming to Amsterdam on Kingsday in the future. As it will be a few days earlier than Queensday used to be, we will be able to do that and go to Scotland for the customary first week of May!

 

 


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Sin Tiempo

Today I was browsing through some past issues of Lenswork. The printed version is an excellent 8½x7” paperback magazine, printed in duotone, book-quality, paper-based, anthology-style periodical publication which focuses on photography and the creative process, produced by Brooks Jensen. I subscribe to the digital Extended version and it was in one these that I came across a series of images by Michael Crouser, called Sin Tiempo. They are beautiful scenes that really struck a chord with me. They have many of the characteristics that make me like an image, be it one of my own or by another photographer.

In the introduction to his portfolio Michael explains the title of this group of images. One of the things they have in common is that there are no identifiers of a particular time anywhere in the frame. No obviously modern things like cars, current typography or fashion statements, modern architecture. These pictures are Sin Tiempo, ‘without time’ in Spanish. They could have been made yesterday, 20 years ago, 50 years ago, or sometimes even centuries ago (if photography had been invented then…) The monochrome treatment and the fact that Michael uses film helps to create this timeless feeling. Looking at some of the images I saw parallels with my own work and even one or two very similar ones (see below.) Having read the introduction I understood better what it was that I liked about these images and also what I like about some of my own! Often, when asked why I like a certain image, I have to say “I don’t know. There are different things about it that I like, but I cannot put them into words.” This feeling of being outside time is probably one of those things. And yet, photography is the most time-bound discipline of the visual arts. It captures the world at one very specific moment in time (I am simplifying a bit, of course) and that is partly it’s appeal. In real life we cannot stop time and observe the world at one specific moment, the world is in constant flux, movement everywhere, things change constantly. Photographs allow us to stop the clock and see what is going on, we can take time and think about what is happening in a picture. We can read the story that the image tells, or we can make one up, using the visual clues present.

Below are two images that both can be regarded as being ‘without time’. The first one is by Michael Crouser and shows a woman, I think, on the steps of a church, I think. There is no title to give us more clues, but there are some hints in the image itself. The woman is sitting on the steps of what seems to me to be church. I like the darkness of the entrance. To me it symbolises the mystery of religion. The woman is very simply dressed and has a dejected posture that I would associate with someone who begs. I may be totally wrong of course, but that’s my interpretation. There are absolutely no clues as to when this image was made and that’s partly what makes it attractive and what induces me to linger and think about it. There are people in this position all over the world and there have been for centuries. This image makes me ponder the injustice.

from Sin Tiempo by Michael Crouser

When I saw the image above I immediately thought of one my own that I made in Bogota in 2005. I remember being struck by the contrast between this poor woman begging on the steps of the church and the opulence of the interior of that building. Moments before I made this image people dressed in their finest clothes filed past this women, most of them barely acknowledging her presence. Begging outside a church is not something that we see very often in the UK, but in Italy, Spain and Latin America it is not so uncommon. She did not seem unhappy or distressed, it seemed that this was her job, her way of making a living.

Begging Woman, Bogota by Ruud van Ruitenbeek

If you want to see more of Michael Crouser’s work you can go to his website michaelcrouser.com.


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Today I Listened To …

Pat Metheny & Charlie Haden
Beyond The Missouri Sky

Pat Metheny is one of the best guitarists alive today and on this albums he teams up with one of the best bass players. Pat plays all the instrument except the bass, including the sitar on the track below. It was released in 1997 and they won a Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance. It is one of my favourite 3 albums by Metheny.

Tears Of Rain

 

This CD, and others, is for sale from my Amazon shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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High

High

A new fairground attraction in Piccadilly Square, Manchester. This is seriously high and looks pretty scary. The screams that could be heard below suggests that the people up there agree. It would certainly be possible to fall out of those seats and I think you would stand little chance of surviving a fall from that height.

 

 

 

 

 


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Raising The Trophy

Me with the Premier League cup

I was at the National Football Museum in Manchester today and got my picture taken with the cup that is going to Manchester United this weekend. Well, I did have to wear gloves, so as not to tarnish the precious trophy!

 

I Won

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Good Service From Audio-T Manchester

I went into Manchester today with my Cyrus Pre Xpd Qx (which needs a repair) and my Cyrus Stream X2 (which needed the latest firmware update). Audio-T in Bridge Street provided excellent service. I had bought some stuff from them years ago, but not the Stream X2. They still did the upgrade free of charge and without a moan.

When I was in the market for a Stream X I did visit the shop, but the cheapest price quoted was a couple of hundred more than I later bought it for. I should have gone back to Audio-T to give them the opportunity to match that price (which they said today they would have done.) I’ll certainly do that next time, as I believe that good service should be rewarded.

One happy customer


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Today I Listened To …

Oh dear! I have been enjoying listening to music through my Cyrus Stream X since January. On Monday however another vital part in the chain developed a fault: my new (well, second hand via eBay) DAC/Pre amp stopped working. Rather helpfully it shows up as a PSU fault on the display. I am taking it to Audio-T in Manchester on Friday to get it repaired, maybe for a bit less than the £225 quoted by Cyrus themselves. All this means that for a few weeks I will hook up my old Pre aCA7.5, which fortunately I had not sold yet, although I may have found a buyer. So for a few weeks I will be listening to CDs and Vinyl only!

 

Ambrose Akinmusire – Prelude To Cora

Ambrose Akinmusire is a trumpet player from California. I was going to write young, but I am not sure people would classify 32 as ‘young’ any more. I do, now. He won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 2007 and just after winning that prize he recorded Prelude To Cora, his debut as band leader  You might expect him to be a bit selfish here and show off his undoubted virtuosity on the trumpet, but you would be surprised. Not that he is not a great player, with some excellent solos, but the music on this CD shows restraint, is well composed and leaves room for the other members of the band to shine as well.

 

 

 

 

 

The Gentle War

Trichotomy – The Gentle War

“Trichotomy’s compelling, hugely dynamic trio music draws on the avant-rock of Radiohead, ECM minimalism and their love of improvisation, in an entrancing Australian echo of the European jazz innovations of the likes of EST or Tord Gustavsen. Modern, imaginative & thoroughly compelling, this is a group in total control of their sound world.”  That’s what it says on their website and who am I to argue with that. In fact, the quote gives you a good idea what their music sounds like. I recently bought two of their CDs and I am enjoying listening to them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just in case you did not know: since having acquired a Cyrus Stream X I am offering all my CDs for sale in Ruud’s Eye Amazone store. If you order direct from me (by email) I will give you a 15% discount on my Amazon store price.


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One From The Archives

Manchester Wheel

I made this one a few years ago, Saturday  the 4th of February 2006 at 12:35 to be exact. The wheel had arrived in Manchester a couple of years early amid some controversy. Some people said it spoiled the square and was a poor imitation of the London Eye, others thought it was a great attraction that would give tourists and resident a new view of the city. The last wheel was dismantled and moved to Edinburgh in 2012. There were plans to erect a much bigger wheel, rising up to 300 feet in 2008, but these plans never materialised. I like the space as it is now, but would not object to the wheel returning for a couple of years.

 

 

 

 

 

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Pattern On A Tree Trunk

Pattern On A Tree Trunk

Pattern On A Tree Trunk

Another one from the walk in Hardcastle Crags on Saturday. This tree was largely stripped of its bark and these beautiful relief lines were visible on the trunk underneath. I don’t know for certain if all this occurred naturally, or if a person had a hand in it. I did see some other trees in Hardcastle Crags that had similar markings, but not so pronounced as here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring 2013

Spring Arrives – Hardcastle Crags

Yesterday was the first day this year that felt a bit like spring. The temperatures are finally getting into double figures. The bright and vibrant greens, that I like so much, are starting to develop. Lets hope this trend continues (and also further north…) These leaves are in a wall of Gibson Mill in Hardcastle Crags, a great place for an easy riverside walk. I am looking forward to the multitude of bluebells  that will be on show here soon.

 

 

 

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