Friday, October 30, 2009


Baggot Street Hallowe'en

This scene in Baggot Street was correct for the time of year. We put out pumpkins, or more correctly for these parts, turnips. with a scary face. Now the tendency this year has to been making Hallowe'en into Christmas. I have seen strings of Hallowe'en lights and posters wishing me "Happy Hallowe'en". I understand that we want to have a happy time and there is nothing wrong with that. But Hallowe'en is a time to be scary. We like to scare each other and howl with laughter because it isn't really dangerous. Just the idea of being terrified will suffice, won't it? It's acceptable because it's "in a container" - one special night where some rules don't apply. Children can dress up, go around to neighbour's doors and perhaps sing, act or say poetry. In return they will receive sweets or sometimes .... money! I'm describing Scottish Hallowe'en of course. But the principle is the same. So have a good scary time tomorrow evening!

Pembroke Road Autumn

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Triptych reflection

I generally don't like this kind of photograph because they seldom turn out well. The fail to fulfil their early promise - which is when you see the reflection in the street. It is almost as if they cannot take another reflection or representation when it goes into print. My worry was that as a triptych it might look like these dressing table mirrors of my parents' generation. But this turned out OK and I was pleased with the three panels of different sizes. But what about triptychs? They were popular in the Middle Ages in Christian art, but were certainly created during the time of the Greeks and the Romans. I felt that somehow the two architectures created a kind of representational relationship. At the same time it's about change in the city - somehow held in aspic.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Red Hot Attention in Ballsbridge

Just across the road from the Sebastian Guinness gallery in Burlington Road, there's a rather forlorn border for plants. To be fair, the office development isn't complete so the plants gets only a little attention. There was only one of these fabulously coloured plants so it got my attention and I went for a limited depth of field. I think it works. Kniphofia caulescens is a member of the genus Kniphofia and is commonly known as Red Hot Poker. African in origin, these plants are named after German botanist Johann Hieronymus Kniphof. Gardeners describe these striking colours as inflorescence and really you can't help but be drawn to look at them. But attention as a concept isn't great. What about that fuzzy field at the rear that the lens didn't pick out? I gave it my attention, so that the viewer wouldn't. That is in the realm of consciousness and consciousness does not begin to exist until it sets limits to an object. So says Merleau-Ponty and thus describes what photographers do all the time!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ballsbridge Amazon

This is the statue outside the Ballsbridge office block, currently being used for the David La Chapelle's American Jesus exhibition at the Sebastian Guinness Gallery in Burlington Road. It is, of course the Mythical Queen Maebh of Connaught in Amazonian pose. I expect most know this story of intoxication and equality, but it was vital that the Queen had to be equal in possessions to her husband. So Maebh felt forced to make a secret sexual accommodation to Daire in order to borrow a brown bull that would equal her husband's prized white bull. But the details of the secret deal leaked and a war commenced to get the brown bull. She was going to take the bull anyway, so it didn't make a lot of difference. There's much more to it and much more bloodshed before the story ends - badly as it happens. The statue reminds me of Beyoncé, so perhaps that's a fitting way to introduce the Americana of David La Chapelle's interesting pix. Get on down there before the exhibition ends on October 31st.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Excellent Adventure in Photoshop

I was encouraged to do this as an exercise in Photoshop training and I was a bit pleased with it. So here's an adventure in making text in different ways and at varying positions. In semiotics it's all about communication and meaning, which is essentially mutual. I've made it mutual by offering it up in the blog so if you are reading this you are in the system! The image is composed of snippets from a handout and I chose an old typewriter typeface though - so what does that suggest to you? The word "Important" looks like an old typewriter key array to me, although that was not my intention. I didn't intend anything - or did I? In some schools of thought, the author's intention matters much less than the reading - and the reading is more about the reader and his or her world and situation. So a text can take on a whole new meaning and becomes very layered. That's the first thing we learn in Photoshop - layers. In Photoshop we can always record layers and look at them. But with a text, we have a bit of decoding to do!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Red Lights in the Rain

I have been trying for so long to get a photograph here that would capture the colour in the traffic lights and they were always over-exposed. But this was quickly taken - a smash and grab kind of a shot - and I had some luck. It was just because the man with the bike presented such a good subject. The red bag and shoes pleasantly reminded me of being a student in the sixties, when it seemed as if we burst into colour. I used a filter to get a bit more intensity but it's not so far away from the original. I was also reminded of Wim Wenders being asked about the many red lights in his seminal film of 1977, American Friend. He replied that yes indeed, there were many red lights in American Friend - and left it at that. Is that enigmatic or what? So this is my tribute and I'll leave it at that.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Just stones on the Beach

It was just a case of pointing the camera down in the bright sunlight of Bray beach. A wide angle lens also helped. What about these stones? Probably as children most of us played on stony beaches and threw flat stones in the water to watch them bounce. In Scotland we called these skliffers - so we would go to the beach and skliff some stones. The word is dialect, but not that old - probably 19th century. Stones have a big place in symbols. They have been used by shamans the world over, to cure disease or to divine the future. In Brittany, women rubbed stone dust on their bellies as a fertility ritual. And of course, where cairns are concerned, it is custom to add a stone to the heap. They are naturally associated with water so it is pleasing to see these nice rounded stones of different colours on the beach. Moisture, palbability and fiery strength said Hildegard of Bingen.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Big Red Ball

I notice in these blogs recently, that there has been a lot of red and blue - and many spheres of some sort or another. The orb is a sign of authority and power - and of course, the universe. This particular sphere is part of the fence that borders the beach in Bray. I loved the red colour and the layers of paint. But most of all, I liked the blue post holding the sphere up. The sphere itself was described by Plato as universal. It has the same distance from the centre to any point on the circumference.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Flag and Tree

I've been watching this flag at Dundrum for some time with a view to a photograph and I finally went for this abstract piece. It reminded me a little of Piet Mondrian who I have much admired since I was a schoolboy. Piet Mondrian (initially Mondriaan) was a Dutch painter who executed purely abstract compositions of line and colour blocks. In his later works, these reduced to finer grids. In his early period though, his impressionist landscapes showed a structure which presaged his more famous pieces of the 1940s.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hope in the Road

I think this box just drifted here in the wind. I got down to box level for the photograph! I was worried about the address so I wanted to blur it. Here's how. Just select the Lasso tool and draw round the area. Select Filter, Gaussian Blur and there's a preview screen - select accordingly. Deselect the area by using Ctrl D. Hey presto! But what about the secret contents of the box - a present, a spare part, a collector's piece? And the box itself had an interesting look as an object in itself. In terms of the unconscious, the box is a female symbol and although protective can also prove constricting. So in this (unconscious) case, the contents may hold some secret that is truly precious, awesome and ... uncertain. Perhaps working with the unconscious is like the case of Pandora and involves some measure of risk. Yet Hope always there remains - in an unbreakable container.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chronos and Super Everything

These two blogs are about clocks, time and super-everything! Jung postulated that there were two kinds of order - the implicate (folded) and explicate (unfolded) orders. Much criticised for being mystical, Jung's concepts are fodder for today's quantum physicists. It's kind of Star Trek stuff and for those of a scientific disposition, but let's say the implicate order isn't very apparent and the explicate order is clear to our experience-perception. We could agree to meet beneath this clock at 2.30 on Tuesday and that would be clear enough. But we don't really understand what time is - or the meaning of time. We could even ask is there anything beyond time? Ultimately, what lies beyond time is in the super-implicate order of things. So says David Bohm, one of the most distinguished thinkers of our ... I was going to say "time" !

Monday, October 12, 2009

St Bart's Autumn Clock

Big Tents

This circus is camped on the N11 near Cornelscourt. As you can see, because of the candy stripe design you can't miss it. It was mid afternoon and sunny, although just at this point, the sun "disappeared" for a moment and hid behind some clouds. What of circuses? Some people find circuses (and clowns) them a little scary. I find I like to watch the audience rather than the performers. I also rather like the regular reappearance of the circus. It's not going to stay that long but in all probability it will return. It's the regular visits that give the circus some kind of stability and permanence in our lives. One psychotherapist (I think he was a family therapist) said that joining the profession was a bit like running away to the circus. I was unsure about what he meant, but perhaps he was referring to this "permanent impermanence" of the circus. Psychotherapists are seldom part of their clients' lives every day. But the regular, periodic visits offer permanence and stability.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Deansgrange, Texas

Deansgrange was sunny today and I was attracted to the art deco style building, now housing Super Value. When I looked at the shot later on in the day, I thought it would look good in more searing light, so I gave it some. Then it reminded me of these Wim Wenders photographs that he took when he was making Paris Texas. The cars were particularly interesting. It would have been hard to distribute them deliberately in this fashion. Deansgrange is quite dedicated to cars. It's just not a walking, pedestrian place. Maybe it's another film, The Cars That Ate Paris, I'm thinking about.

The Cost of Loyalty

I couldn't resist this splendid, eye-catching advertisement for Brown Thomas, Dublin's premier department store. What a great picture! The site itself is very visible from St Stephen's Green and I don't imagine it's cheap. It has always been a "bearer of signs". Dogs of course have their fans. We tend to emphasise their loyalty, but diminish the other aspects of their character. So the massive portrait of the dog fragments it from the real somewhat. It leads me to consider what of the dog is in the imaginary, the real, the symbolic or the concrete? I like to think of the mythological dog Cerberus here. With his three heads, he was the guardian of the Underworld. But the important point about Cerberus was that although he could grant everyone admission, he would not let anyone out again. Maybe this is the thing about the pleasures of such department stores. We don't want to leave. We need an Orpheus to intercede on our behalf and persuade Cerberus with his song.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Baggot Street - the Golden Years

Well - Upper Baggot Street's golden years, that is. This is a detail from the rooftops on the street's east side. You won't see this so close - because it's a long lens. No wide angle this time! The shot was taken in bright sunshine and then filtered in the "light room" as they call it these days. I call it Golden Years because for me, the street had such a vibrant feel when I first encountered it. I wondered what it might have been like in Victorian times when this section was built. I liked the top of the building - not too ornate but careful shapes, compared to the straight lines of today's buildings. It was functional too, because the shapes redistribute the rain and prevent uneven wear on the building's fabric. But what have I done to the space here? I've rendered the upper part of the building as predominantly visual-geometric. But what lies hidden below is a complex of supermarkets, fast food outlets, betting shops, pubs and banks - and a trinity of relationships involving capital, land and labour. According to Lefebvre's idea of the psychoanalysis of space, perhaps this attractive shape is merely fetishised, fragmented and ultimately ... negotiable.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Blue Welsh Stone

I've had this picture for a while but every time I tried to adjust it, the central rock strata went blue. it was some time before I realised that this rock is blue and the camera recorded it perfectly well. This is on the Anglesey coast, not so far from Llanfair PG, where much Welsh blue stone is worked. Perhaps some geology experts will get in touch and explain more. This formation borders the beach in a bay favoured by walkers. I met a few people there and they were most helpful about directions. There was something special about the place, that made it easy to approach others. We were all accessible to each other, perhaps because most of us were on vacations of some sort or maybe just because this is a sacred place of much beauty. The rocks are both stable and unchanging.


One of the more inventive exhibits at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)is this sculpture, sited over the fountain in the museum's gardens. From a distance, it took me a while to realise it was a car. I discovered it was a Yugo, the car that originated in the old Yugoslavia. Despite the fact that it was generally disparaged, the marque continued until the end of 2008. The Yugo was a cheap and functional car, based on Fiat 127 and 128 models. It was regarded as disposable and so owner maintenance was generally poor. In consequence, it earned a poor (largely undeserved) reputation. Disposability has become one of the more unfortunate features of the epoch. If it's cheap, we feel we can throw it away. We value neither the object, nor the time put into making it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

nuit américaine

This really a very blue sky shot at around mid day in the Pembroke Road. I named it after the famous Truffaut film, Nuit américaine (or Day for Night as it's called in English language versions). The term refers to the technique for shooting during the day and getting a night look. I think this kind of approximates to more than did the Film Noir filter I have as a plug-in. It was of course the aerial that took my attention, in conjunction with the repaired section of wall. This isn't about Ariel, who was the Lion of God in Hebrew - the Archangel Ariel. Aerials or antennae are about communications and that is in the province of Hermes - his winged sandals gave him the power of flight and rapid movement. With an interest in trade, this rendered his attributes open to corruption. We could be talking of television and newspapers today, couldn't we? Many messages are received through our television receivers, but can they all be true? Like nuit américaine, it isn't all that we think.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hospital Blue

I've been waiting to take this photograph for some years ...waiting on two things to be right. The first was a suitable lens and the second was a suitable (deep) blue sky. The latter seemed more difficult than the former! The Royal City of Dublin Hospital, founded in 1832, has a fine red brick facade and is a delight to regard on a fine day like today. Sometime in the eighties, I was, for a while, fascinated with this kind of shot. I had a borrowed Canon 10mm lens and I must say I probably overdid things. Today marks a return to my delight in making this kind of dramatic picture. This hospital does does a variety of things. It has a stroke department and performs various community duties, but it no longer runs an accident and emergency unit. The earliest known hospitals were run by religious orders and as far as can be ascertained, the first documented evidence for the existence of a hospital points to Sri Lanka. Looks like a run of reds and blues in the blog. What can this mean?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Red and Blue

Now this was a chance shot. I spotted the flowers in near perfect bloom in next door's garden. I was patient in getting a limited depth of field but I had to accommodate a wind which moved the bell-like flowers around quickly. Then I sparingly applied a new filter from a plug-in site called Luce. It just looks so nice to me that I felt unwilling to go any further.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pembroke Shutters and Me

I took this shot in one of the Lanes. These small roads posess a wealth of interest, because the Celtic Tiger seemed to pass this space by. There are properties that are sorely in need of attention and often they make for the most visual interest. This image is much as it was but I did use a filter. It reminds me of Portugal a bit, the way it was and is now. But I couldn't tell whether anyone could see through the shutters and if they had been watching I might have been embarrassed. What would that embarrassment have been about, I wonder? I gave my attention to the window and I judged that I wasn't intruding. Technically this is a shuttered window and it is seen by me. I look at the shutters and not behind them - but I sense that there might be someone there. It was me that invested the shuttered window with meaning. So in terms of sense experience, it's a relationship between the shutters and me.

Auto Vote

The referendum presents a good opportunity to examine the mythical figure of Europa, said to have inspired the name for the continent. Daughter of Phoenix, she was abducted by a lustful Zeus (in the form of a bull) whilst playing on the seashore. She then bore him two sons. The figure of Europa was very popular with artists in antiquity. One of most famous paintings is the representation by Titian. Europa features on the Greek 2 Euro coin.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


I am always talking about the Pembroke Road and running out of ideas. Of course, this never happens. Spiders are everywhere and they are leaving their mark all along the wrought iron work of the local fences. Spider's webs are fragile things, often associated with the Fates and our life threads. But more interesting was the very mortal Arachne who challenged the mistress of weaving, the Goddess Athene. Tired of Athene's teasing of mortals in her work, Arachne wove a portrait depicting the love of Gods for mortal women. The furious Athene struck out at her with a shuttle and in response Arachne tried to hang herself. Athene saved her life by transforming her into a spider hanging on a thread. Shall mortals challenge the Gods? We cannot achieve that level of perfection and it's unwise to try. It's not that we shouldn't strive to achieve great work, but perfection is in another realm. The point of the myth is that those who try to ape the creator are likely to suffer punishment - the failure of ambition. Cognitive psychologists argue that those who feel this need for perfection in all that they do are prey to an irrational belief.

Office Utterance

This is the same building as depicted in Time Tunnel. Using a filter from Virtual Photographer called Art School, I sacrificed a bit of detail for the sake of impact. It is very different from the original shot. I find that occasionally I work on an image for quite some time and then find that it is more or less the same as the original. Moreover, a lot of time can be spent creating the original image and then double that time making it worse! In this case I liked the difference because there is something of the night here. Lefebvre talked of the perceived, the conceived and the lived. They are related of course, but not in a fashion that is simple or stable. Maybe the way I react to this building is at the level of the unconscious, which would be "an unknown". but as Lefebvre might say, I am trying to give that "unknown" an utterance.

Postcard Home

This is just a nice view from Anglesey, but I thought it looked a bit like one of these postcard scenes from holiday places. Why do we send postcards when we are on vacation? Likely as not, we will arrive home before the postcard does. My theory is that it is to reassure friends at home that we were only away for a short time. We weren't away permanently and we return. The first rule of the postcard however, is that it should feature a different space from the one we have temporarily left. This scene is "natural" in the sense that it isn't part of the built environment. There are no fences or boundaries of any kind. No property is designated and even the makeshift car park that borders this space is "unbuilt". The boundary that the collective makes is that it is a "beauty spot". Now that naming is a bit like a fence - so the natural scene is also constructed.