I love using images to generate language – and this week in the weekly writing workshop I facilitate for people in addiction recovery, we looked at five photographs – three by Mary Ellen Mark, and two by William Eggleston:
and we tried to use these images as inspiration to generate poetry (poems). I don’t always get the opportunity to attempt the exercises whilst I’m facilitating, but I love this kind of image-generated exercise – so I gave it a go. Instead of focussing on one photograph, I utilised all five, and this is what I came up with.
Why not give it a go yourself and see what you come up with….
All photographs ©MiggyAngel
I had a fantastic night hosting/compering/interviewing/rabble-rousing/drunkard stewarding/evoking voodoo/performing poetry at the launch party for the publication of the amazing Dean Lilleyman’s second novel, ‘The Gospel According To Johnny Bender’. It was a magical night, a celebration of the eternal culture of Making Stuff, a ritual anointing of Our Johnny, a blood-vow of love and support for Dean and his every mercurial endeavour…
On the night I managed to let the X-Pro1 whir a few (hundred) shots through the silver dog-moon apparition chamber. This is The Launch Party For Johnny Bender According To My Feral Eye. Enjoy! (and go kop the book it’s a future classic just reach out your hands feel for the tongue on fire and it’s yours…)
Had a fantastic time hosting and performing at Hand Job Zine’s launch party for issue 10 last night. Congratulations to Jim and Sophie from Hand Job for organising a wonderful night of entertainment, and also to everyone who came down, performed or partied or both.
The zine looks absolutely amazing and is packed with some incredible writing – including *ahem* a story by yours truly – and comes with a c.d. of spoken word, and a song by myself and John Freer (otherwise known as We Bleed Ink). As well as photography by the brilliant and talented Sophie Pitchford. You can pick up a copy of the zine here.
I managed to squeak a few photos out of the x-pro1 inbetween introducing acts and performing… this is the night in pictures according to my twitchy feral eye….
(By the way, the band were fucking brilliant, they’re called The White Skull Death Snakes Of Death… Check’em out)
Enjoy the pictures ar kid… and see you at the next one! xx
(note on the photographs: all shot on fuji x-pro1 – no image was cropped, grain is due to high iso as was low light in venue and camera has no flash. also, if you use any images please credit myself – Miggy Angel – as the photographer/author of the image. Cheers! xx)
Sometimes it’s the photography that stays with me. I don’t so much remember the narrative as the perspective. The shifting arrangements, the composition. An album of stills more a haunted wunderkammer. So, if I’m asked what the movie was about, all I have are a handful of photographs. Recently, I have been thinking about the photography of Carlos Reygadas’ ‘Battle In Heaven’. Again, I haven’t been scrutinising the movie as such, full, as it is, of Reygadas customary provocative (problematic?) exploitation of class tensions and torpor etc – but rather ruminating on the images. Which sounds much more deliberate an occurrence than it is. These images return to me involuntarily. A kind of haunting.
Something aslant in the photography, askew.
Reminded me of John Baldessari’s photography – the ones that say WRONG etc.
In my mind these images now become eternal companion pieces – Reygadas and Baldessari entwined. To what purpose? Baldessari’s commentary is on the medium, the convention of the spectator-eye that is obliged by visual culture to seek and demand the consensus of ‘correct’ framing and composition. Critiquing the logic that everything which somehow falls outside of these visual dictates is WRONG… the haphazard, the wayward, the amateur. Whereas Reygadas, maybe, is more interested in the figure in the frame. Reveals the link between aesthetic mis-framing and social outcasting. The perennial WRONG that is assigned to the stigmatised and marginalised. A kind of death by un-framing. But, I don’t really know why these images, Reygadas and Baldessari, have become sibling rogue elements within my mind and consciousness. Blind eye bald hand follows the clues, picking up frosted candy on the forest floor. This is the nature of my particular practise of deciphering the great cryptogram of images. Seeing doppelgängers where the mirror suggests them. And what would they say if they could speak, these composite opposites? Keep looking, they’d say. Keep on looking.
It’s almost two years since my book, Grime Kerbstone Psalms was published. In that time I have completed the writing of another two full collections of poetry, as well as amassed a horde of neglected fragments, false-starts, half-dawns, orphan-paragraphs and exiled verses, etc. I am, for the first time in over fifteen years, not writing. I am All Wrote Out.
I discovered this photograph recently. It is by Christer Strömholm. I cannot stop thinking about it.
Before my book was published I used to write here regularly. I felt that I was ‘on the internet’ back then. I used this blog to journal my travails through art and life, to reflect on my writing practises etc. I recently moved every post from this blog into the trash folder, not realising that they are erased after thirty days. Now I no longer write here. I no longer feel as though I am ‘on the internet’. I feel like I am falling through the internet. Or rather, through a labyrinth of images. It has become clear to me recently, through observing my current online habits, that the internet is primarily, for me, a way to immerse myself in images. The internet is an image factory, and I am attendant at its conveyor belt, but have no idea of my purpose within this factory anymore.
We once had a project, remember? Please, friend, remind me. What was our project again?
Back to the image. Like I say, I cannot stop thinking about the Christer Strömholm photograph above. There are so many ways into this photograph, the myriad possible approaches towards its invitation, and all of those entrances are on fire.
Since having my book published, and completing a further two currently unpublished collections, the electric alphabet that once burned inside me has been replaced by an empty photograph album, and a thirst of another kind. When I blink I hear a camera’s mechanical click and my heart heaves again.
I do not know the name of the photograph above, if it has one, nor the context in which it was taken. But I cannot stop thinking about it.
The scene is smoke-filled. Is it the scene of a party with smoke-machine, or is it the scene of a disaster? Does the hand across the child’s face seek to help or hinder? Is it an adult protecting the child from witnessing horror? Was the hand intended to mask the mouth from the smoke? Is the hand the courier of an impish joke?
I often think about Blake’s admonishment that we look ‘through the eye’ not ‘with the eye’. I think that what he was advocating was the transcendence of the ego, of the subject/object binary, of the ‘I’ that has or uses the ‘eye’. Blake asked that we relinquish duality and become sight itself. Maybe this is the project I have mislaid.
Back to the Christer Strömholm photograph that I can’t stop thinking about.
At a certain age a hand is put before our eyes, maybe as soon as we are born, and this flesh-visor is the inheritance of a visual culture. A way of seeing is passed on to us, a language of comprehension. Is that inheritance symbolised by the elder’s hand which is being placed over the eyes of the child in the photograph? Is this why I am on the internet scouring for the images of cinema and photography? Am I resisting the hand-visor of inherited visual culture? Or is my searching, in fact, the actual adopting of this visage? Is the internet, the elder, placing the hand over the eyes of the child, that is me?
What does it mean to consume images? Are the images consumed? Or the viewer?
I recently watched ‘Arrebato’ (Rapture) by Iván Zulueta. All through the film the line is drawn between the shooting of drugs and the shooting of images, the addiction to representation, the addiction, more like, to preservation, whether the formaldehyde of narcotics or the camera.
I am not writing poetry at the moment. I have just bought a camera.
At the end of Arrebato the camera devours them. All that’s left is a red stain upon a roll of film.
My new camera feels so great in my hands. Like a freedom-pass. Like the key to the city. Like a loaded gun.
I’m watching a Brazilian film called “Rat Fever” (A Febre do Rato) by Cláudio Assis. It’s a black and white film with beautiful photography and features a vociferous street poet called Zizo. Remember when we were like Zizo? Big mouth poets, rabble rousers, creative and cretinous? Whatever happened to us? If everyone else is an ’emerging’ writer these days, then maybe we are ‘retreating’ writers. Friend, do you remember the blue storm, the night it rained and never stopped? We raised the large black umbrella, put our heads inside it, and never came out again.
PHOTOGRAPH – BY DAVID LEVEQUE
You hear a voice. You close your eyes. You see a house. It is a day made for sleepwalking, stuffing obsolete coins into broken slot-machines, and the nights are made of hands. You close your eyes further still. You hear more voices. You keep your eyes closed for a couple of years. This is how books are made. Just don’t tell anyone. No one would ever believe you. Make a rosette from a plume of smoke. Keep your eyes and mouth shut and never let the blood congeal.
This blog was four years old in July. This morning I moved every single post into the trash. I found this photograph online today. I like to stare at photographs and chew on the fact that I will never write a poem as dense with silhouette and shadow as this photograph is. And. Neither will you. Never mind, though. Never ever mind. One word after the other we go.