Light Boxes

No idea why these advertising light boxes are the way that they are, but they are each end of the S-Bahn platforms at Hamburg Airport. Having walked past them, and occasionally taken the odd digicrap of them, here they are on film. In this case Kodak Portra 800 in the Natura Black.

It turns out that blue lights in a dimly lit underground station are about at close to a torture test as you can get for fast colour negative film. The obviously different light levels really didn’t help with a point and shoot. All of which made them an adventure to process – the white balance still isn’t consistent, but i give up!

Mystery why there are they and never contain any advertising… all other slots are always occupied, with these left open. Maybe they are a token gesture towards making the airport more relaxing / less commercial… or art? Ha!

Parting Shot

Umberto Eco died today. Over the years he’d entertained and bemused me in unequal measures. It always felt as though he was on a perpetual search in his works of fictions for the appropriate follow up to Name of the Rose. A case of ‘peaking too early’ perhaps?

His more scholarly, but entertaining nonetheless, writings existed in a tradition of european intellectualism that was not always accessible to me – the layers of meaning, playful exploration of ideas across languages, epochs, civilisations… i’ll miss the erudition he so obviously enjoyed displaying.

Today is a good day to remind small-minded england of the great european tradition of intellectualism, of thinking, and of the “european experiment” which has sought to bring peace to so many people. Here is an extract from Eco’s essay on Ur, or eternal, Fascism:

7. To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country. This is the origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with a plot, possibly an international one. The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the advantage of being at the same time inside and outside. In the U.S., a prominent instance of the plot obsession is to be found in Pat Robertson’s The New World Order, but, as we have recently seen, there are many others.

Fuck your special pleading. Fuck your culture of entitlement and greed. Fuck your appeals to xenophobic instincts. Fuck your attempts to enshrine diminished empathy in law. And most obviously: fuck you dishface.

What is Twitter Doing?

Don’t think twitter and i are going to stay friends for much longer… which is a real shame because up until recently it has been a really useful tool for keeping up / reconnecting with friends around the world.

To me twitter is a fairly private place* – i have a private account and have had since day one, only follow people that i know or are posting things that will be relevant, automatically prune my tweets with a month long moving window, am cautious about accepting new follow requests. Consequently my interactions with celebrities, brands, clickbaiters and other assorted scum of the earth is greatly limited.

Having curated my set of follows over time it has become a reliable means to keep up with what friends are doing (many of which live far far away), a feed of research happenings (mostly security and climate change related), and an “important” events feed (earthquakes, prime ministers fucking pigs, that sort of thing…)

That has all worked really well for a while. And then recently it stopped being so frictionless. At first it was just the website, but that was alright because the iPad client was still nice and simple. Then promoted tweets started coming up in the iPad feed… first i blocked all of them, then i started reporting them as spam. That was followed by ‘who to follow’ (otherwise known as, “fuck off! stop being creepy!”) and ‘while you were away’ (are there people too stupid to manage a timeline?). And, then i deleted it.

Which left me with the Mac client. When the App Store update for that one came i made a backup of the current client, and have been steadfastly refusing to be tricked into getting rid of the “1 update to apply” flash on the icon.

Eventually that client is going to stop working, and the only way forward from that point is deleting my account!

Obviously there are plenty of twitter replacements, but i know from past experience that it’s pretty much impossible to get any level of engagement on those platforms. Something new will come along, catch the zeitgeist, and we’ll do this whole rollercoaster ride again.

Which brings me back to the original question: what is twitter doing?!

Well, in the grand traditional of silicon valley startups, obviously they are attempting ‘monetise their user-base’. The people running the company now are not the same as those who put the original idea out there – they are long gone, and busy frittering away more money than they can ever reasonably be expected to spend in a lifetime on coming up with the “next big thing”. Which leaves us, the user-base, to deal with a wave of vultures all attempt to cash in before the collapse. Short-term profit over all.


 

*  this is probably an oddly considered use of twitter, or any SNS for that matter, but to me the wide open dash for followers / following is far more bizarre. In what social situation would you make connections and express your thoughts to almost complete strangers. What is normal about having hundreds / thousands of “friends” that you don’t know?

The situation is obviously different if your engagement with twitter is for promotion, information dissemination, performance, art, etc. but purely personal accounts? Odd.

Book Covers

Tangentially related to the previous post…

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That’s Iain’s latest book (or maybe it isn’t – a few months have passed…) The cover is a crop of the following photograph of mine, taken with the previously maligned Natura Black 1.9:

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Not sure it’s the crop that i’d have made, but i’m notoriously bad at cropping my shots.

It strikes me as somewhat unusual to have covers that are “full bleed” photographs at the moment. Maybe it was never a thing… but certainly the current trend is to more designed and graphical covers. The IWTFY books have eschewed that direction and, to my eye, look all the more distinctive for it.

Both IWTFY covers have also been fairly abstract portraits of M., taken in the bath with a digital P&S… that is a trend which seems difficult to continue.

Sticky Shutter

The olympus xa2XA2 is pretty much my favourite P&S camera. I’ve travelled with one for years. And i mean years – M. had one when we met…

That particular one died a few years ago. The shutter had started to get unreliable and eventually completely unresponsive.

It was a sad day, but a new one was purchased on Yahoo! Auction, and point and shoot life carried on unabated.

This problem with the shutter is apparently common, and the inevitable is now happening to the replacement. It’s hard to get too upset that a camera that was produced in 1980, and has likely seen hundreds of rolls of film, starts to give up the ghost. However, at this point it’s likely that any replacement that i find is quickly going to suffer the same fate.

Time to start to learn to fix it! According to this “tutorial” it should be simply a matter of opening it up, cleaning, tweaking the contacts, and getting it back together. It’s the last part of that which gives me pause… the alternative is to take it to the grumpy camera repair man and have him do it. Less embarrassing than turning up with a bag of pieces.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of P&S cameras, there is also the Fujifilm Natura S. Another purchase from Yahoo! Auction… and i have to say that i don’t like it. Some people rave about them, but unless you’re *only* shooting 1600 ASA film, it’s a horrible experience. The flash tends to be very eager to fire, even when you’d expect that it wouldn’t, the menu system is junk, settings don’t survive a power cycle, it has no exposure compensation, which leads to “fun” DX coding hacks (scraping paint of film canisters with your keys…), and to top it all off, the focus on mine is really soft in a lot of situations. Despite some reasonable results over the last couple of years, it has never become the replacement that i hoped it would be.