HESO Magazine

Photography, Music, Film, Hitchhiking, Craft Beer – Cultural Pugilist

Author: HESO Staff (Page 4 of 4)

Calcutta Holy Man (Sean Miles Lotman)

Photo of the Week Sean Lotman

Calcutta Holy Man (Sean Miles Lotman)

Calcutta Holy Man

I was born in the 1970s, which means I came of age in a crossover generation straddling both analogue and digital cultures. Many of my peers are now in the vanguard of Internet media, yet many of them, like myself, grew up writing school reports on typewriters and making mixed tapes for the girls we loved. A whole industry of iPhone applications has evolved to cater to the nostalgia of this lo-fi sensibility– that it is an artifice does not matter to many in our ironically inclined generation. I am not altogether Luddite, but I believe that regarding photography at least, authenticity is more valuable than convenience which is why I shoot analogue rather than digital.

Sean Lotman is the author of the monthly column Pop Zeitgeist

Stonehenge Film Still - Chronos (Ron Fricke, 1985)

Chronos Documents the Process of Time (Lapse)

A Ron Fricke presentation of a Les Productions de la Géode production, in association with Magidson Films,
Reuben H. Fleet Space Theater & Science Center. Distributed by Canticle Films (1985) (worldwide) (theatrical), MacGillivray Freeman Films (1985) (USA) (theatrical), Reuben H. Fleet Space Theater & Science Center, The (1985) (USA) (theatrical). Producer: Ron Fricke and Jeffrey Kirsch. Written and Directed by Ron Fricke.

Stonehenge Film Still - Chronos (Ron Fricke, 1985)

Stonehenge Film Still - Chronos (Ron Fricke, 1985)

To say that the genre of documentary film-making known as Non-Verbal has already seen its zenith might cause the casual film-buff to react in several different ways:

“Wait, I didn’t even know that was a genre. What have I missed?” or

“Do those Baader-Meinhoff-inspired proto-internet-porn films of the mid-90s qualify as non-verbal? Because if they do, I didn’t miss anything!” or

“Know this: as long as Ron Fricke continues to draw breath there will crest another Non-Verbal wave on these parched shores, O yes!”

OK, but who is Ron Fricke?

Fricke is the filmmaker perhaps best known for his cinematographic work on Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance, (Institute for Regional Education, 1982) the first (and best) of the Qatsi Trilogy directed by Godfrey Reggio, and Baraka, the 1992 non-narrative epic in cinéma vérité. Just as the initial Qatsi film dealt with the theme of “man’s relationship to the eternal,” Baraka too, manages to evoke visceral reactions to a nonexistent storyline by playing on the bigger picture of the similarities humans of all walks of life share rather than what drives them apart.

Chronos (Ron Fricke, 1985)

Chronos (Ron Fricke, 1985)

Some call it poetry, others say tedious, but Baraka cannot be stereotyped as the typical granola fodder for neo-hippie troupe, a new age album of monks chanting the names of Liz Taylor’s husbands, or any of the other self-help metaphysical movements of latter-day western metaphysics. It is much bigger than any labels. Whatever it is, it has its roots in Chronos, one of the first non-narrative time-lapse films, where we see firsthand Fricke’s handiwork with the camera coalesce with his own vision of the world. Filmed in atom-smashingly clear 70mm film format and printed using the IMAX cinematographic process (1.78:1), he and a handful of others revolutionized documentary film-making by creating a film camera which shoots computer-precise, motion controlled time-lapse cinematography, spawning the Non-Verbal genre and inspiring a generation of filmmakers in the process.


Spanning the recent pre-internet and post-internet periods of technological boom, the genre has grown steadily since the mid-80s as the once esoteric world around us is normalized by curious and industrious filmmakers from all over the world, especially the French. Atlantis (1991, Luc Besson) from Luc Besson (The impetus to Le Grand Bleu perhaps), Microcosmos: The grass people (Microcosmos: Le peuple de l’herbe, Miramax, 1996) directed by Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou and Winged Migration, (Le Peuple Migrateur Sony Pictures Classics, 2001) from Jacques Cluzaud, Michel Debats and Jacques Perrin, whose production company, Galatée Films, continues to outpace the rest of the non-verbal pack. HOME, directed by photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand is another example of great documentary film-making, but is narrated (Glenn Close) and has a clear agenda-driven narrative (Climate Change).

Film Still - Chronos (Ron Fricke, 1985)

Film Still - Chronos (Ron Fricke, 1985)

To accomplish their goal of creating compelling still photographs that move, the film-makers must deliberately balance the three elements of film-making: cinematography, editing and music. Soundtracks in all film have a massive impact on the viewer and how the viewer perceives the mise-en-scène (look at Michelangelo Antonioni’s use of silence in the penultimate scene of The Passenger). Yet in Non-Verbal film, the score seems to embody more than mere accompaniment, in that it acts as the concomitant guiding voice, so to speak, blending the sonic and visual elements into a harmonious observable medium. Equal to Fricke’s own ingenuity and expertise with cameras could be composer Michael Stearns, who scored Chronos and Baraka, often using esoteric and homemade instruments, such as the Beam. Called an “instrument of discovery” the Beam has 24 piano strings gauged from 19 to 22, is attached to a 12 foot piece of extruded aluminum with a large electrical pick-up mimicking the setup of an electrical guitar and appears to be played with various metallic vases and pipes. “I chose the beam as one of the unique voices in the score for Cronos because of its deep earthtone qualities…and an instrument that had a large dynamic range that would help propel the soundtrack through the different movements.”

Twenty-six years after Chronos lapsed into existence, word on the street is that Non-Verbal film-making is about to be shaken up once again. The pantomime who would be king, Ron Fricke has scheduled his companion piece to Baraka, Samsara to be released in 2011. Which means New Yorkers, Angelenos and wherever there is a film festival, those people will get to see it, but everyone else in the flow of the world will have to wait until it’s released on disc. Since Bollywood’s film-making revolution has spread west to Nigeria and east to China (the second-largest IMAX film-going community), it might be worthwhile petitioning IMAX for moksha, which is to say, wider release.

Watch Chronos on YouTube
Download Chronos
Non-Verbal Indie Shorts

Critical State ©Tommy Oshima

Creative Ways to Donate to Tohoku Quake Tsunami Relief Effort

Video © Atomicboyx of the children’s relief organization KID’S EARTH FUND

As of this writing (March 22, 2011) the Japanese National Police Agency has 9,199 confirmed deaths, 13,786 people missing as well as more than 125,000 buildings destroyed in the March 11th Tohoku Earthquake, the subsequent tsunami and the ongoing Fukushima Nuclear Plant Incident. The World Bank has estimated the damage, between US$122 billion and $235 billion, could take five years to rebuild. No longer should we ask ourselves should I stay or should I go? Rather we should ask, no matter where we may be, what can I do to help?

Here are a few ways people both inside and outside of Japan are helping.

Jennifer Schwartz Gallery talks about Life Support Japan, the effort by photographers and galleries worldwide to raise money for the hundreds of thousands directly affected. Proceeds from the silent auction were donated to Direct Relief International and Habitat for Humanity Japan.

The Life Support Japan auction has ended but that was just the beginning. A number of Tokyo-based photographers have taken the auction idea into their own hands and are publicizing their donated prints via Flickr Charity Print Auction Group. It’s a great way to support the relief effort and commemorate the process with a high quality print for your wall.

©John Nelson

©John Nelson

John Nelson is auctioning the above print (among others) of his photography with all proceeds to be donated to charity. Bid here.

Critical State ©Tommy Oshima

Critical State ©Tommy Oshima

Tokyo-based photographer Tommy Oshima is auctioning the above “Critical State”. Bid here.

Hello ©Erika Pham

Hello ©Erika Pham

Tokyo-based photographer Erika Pham is auctioning the above print of her exceptional photography. Bid here.

A Picture Is All You Are To Me ©Uchijin

A Picture Is All You Are To Me ©Uchijin

Tokyo-based photographer Uchujin has updates from inside Tokyo and is auctioning the above print of “A Picture Is All You Are To Me ” as well. Bid here.

Crying ©Sean Wood

Crying ©Sean Wood

Tokyo-based photographer Sean Wood is auctioning a print of the above “Crying”. Bid here.

Mannequin ©Jon Ellis

Mannequin ©Jon Ellis

Tokyo_based photographer Jon Ellis is auctioning a print of the above”Mannequin” from the recent Fragments of Tokyo 2011 exhibition. Bid here.

Kamikura shrine, adorned in Cherry Blossoms ©Manny Santiago

Kamikura shrine, adorned in Cherry Blossoms ©Manny Santiago

Manny is auctioning the above print Kamikura shrine, adorned in Cherry Blossoms. Bid here.

Nippon Kizuna Artwork by Justin Sereni

Nippon Kizuna Artwork by Justin Sereni

James Hadfield of Time Out Tokyo writes that “one of the most globe-straddling offerings to date comes courtesy of an international group of Tokyo-based artists, plus a London music writer who had the misfortune (or is it good luck?) to arrive in town the day before the quake hit. Nihon Kizuna collects 50 tracks, many of them unreleased exclusives, from heavyweight electronica producers and avant rockers such as Kode 9, The Qemists, Ernest Gonzales, Daisuke Tanabe and Slugabed. Clocking in at over 3 hours, it raised more than $5,000 on its first day of sale alone.”

Price: £10/$15/1,500 yen/12 euros or more
Available from: Bandcamp, Japanese iTunes Store (from Monday 21)
Proceeds to: Japanese Red Cross Society

OTHER WAYS TO DONATE SAFELY TO JAPAN DISASTER RELIEF:

Crow Castle of the Pine Forest Plateau

The furthest one can get away from the sea is as remote as it gets in Japan. This is Matsumoto, the lone guiding star in the vast inky wilderness of what was once known as Shinano, now the prefecture of Nagano. The city itself, which has seen a minor drop in population in the last five years, and yet is still so easily navigable by either bike, bus or the old fashioned way- on foot, is quite small by Japanese standards, though it packs a historic punch.

Crow Castle of the Pine Forest Plateau

Crow Castle of the Pine Forest Plateau

Matsumoto jo aka Karasu-jo on a chilly winter’s day with Chigusa

A fuedal stronghold built under Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the late 15th century, Matsumoto Castle is the oldest extant wooden castle in Japan. I know, I know, you’re saying, “Who cares? Seen one 500 year old wooden castle, seen them all!”, but this one, known as Crow Castle (Kurasu-jo) due to its black exterior, is rare in that rather than atop a protective mountain or between rivers it sits exposed to god and all on a level plain (hirajiro), a key to its survival during a less civilized time in Japan’s struggle for self control. Dangerous in the time of Hideyoshi perhaps, but in the parlance of our times, all that means is that when you take your lady friend on a day trip from Tokyo (it’s only a couple hours from Shinjuku by Asuza Express Limited Express), you don’t have to walk up any steps. Just mosey past the artisan shops on Nawate-dori running along the Sai river (which has seen better days) or, even better, before retiring to one of the many cozy hot-spring inns for the night on your way back from one of the many hip-ass bars, new wave cafes and foodie-friendly eateries Matsumoto is famous for, take a stroll across the fine gravel surrounding the keep, sit and admire the graceful swans gliding or the feisty koi searching for food as the autumn harvest moon reflects peacefully in the midnight moat.

If you can find the tiny bar called Elbow Room down a narrow alley just off Nawate-dori, maybe you'll be able to find the castle's hidden room as well. Click To Tweet

Crow Castle of the Pine Forest Plateau

Crow Castle at Dawn

Matsumoto might be what the proverbial “they” would call quaint or rustic, tucked away perhaps, if it weren’t the music capital of central Japan (Nagoya be damned!), home of the best hyaku-wari soba noodles this side of nirvana, and of course, have the oldest original castle of its kind in a city of more than 1000 years located along the old Nakasendo, surrounded by still relatively pristine forests, the obvious undulations of the nearby Japanese Alps and the ultra-verdant Kiso valley, blah blah blah. If you can find the tiny bar called Elbow Room down a narrow alley just off Nawate-dori, maybe you’ll be able to find the castle’s hidden room as well.

Letter From The Editor – Digital V. Analog

Digital V. Analog

Digital V. Analog

“It now appears that books in the form so beloved by Uncle Alex and me, hinged in unlocked boxes, packed with leaves speckled by ink, are obsolescent. My grandchildren are already doing much of their reading from words projected on the face of a video screen. Please, please, please wait just a minute.

At the time of their invention books were devices as crassly practical for storing or transmitting language, albeit fabricated from scarcely modified substances found in forest and field and animals as the latest Silicon Valley miracles. But by accident, not by cunning calculation, books, because of their weight and texture and because of their sweetly token resistance to manipulation, involve our hands and eyes and then our minds and souls in a spiritual adventure I would be very sorry for my grandchildren not to know about.”

– Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Timequake

Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s Timequake is largely concerned with the loss of the imagination, the loss of story telling, the loss of free will. To back up a bit, before Guttenberg transformed handmade manuscripts with movable type, books were largely cared for by monks and not meant for common people. Information, as it remains today, was power. Teach a blacksmith to read, suddenly he doesn’t need the pope’s interpretation, he can think for himself. Enter Martin Luther and his 95 theses. This is revolution. Thus, out went blind Homer’s oral tradition and in came the written word. The Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Emancipation Proclamation. These are all direct results of the written word becoming law. This major paradigm shift took millennia to transition. What once took centuries now takes nanoseconds, whatever those are. Now you can google The Odyssey (1,550,000 results) in 0.18 seconds. Today books are becoming commonplace, overlooked, cumbersome, even impractical in a world in which atom-sized microprocessors hold the entire Library of Congress in your telephone/computer/stereo/address book/movie theater, ad nauseum. How we are communicating is changing. Changing so quickly that before Kurt Vonnegut Jr. passed from the earth in April of 2007, he felt we were missing something, he felt it necessary to tell us to “Please, please, please wait just a minute.”

Digital and analog. Cause and effect. Origin and outcome. Inevitability and free will. Moirai and Erinyes. Look at the big picture and get a sense of the generic. Zoom in and focus on details. Go too far and the grain (pixels, what have you) blurs beyond recognition. Get too wide and we’re in danger of missing the nitty-gritty. There is a sense of contradiction inherent in any magazine these days. What once was set by hand is now placed by a cursor. What once was inked and pressed on wood and metal is now plated via pdf. The outcome is the same: the HESO you hold in your hands, which tells you via meticulously placed type, at the top of every page to check out http://hesomagazine.com.

I have a fat manilla envelope full of stationary from the many hotels, hostels and inns I’ve stayed in over the years. Envelopes and clean white leaves of paper pressed with letterhead, logos and contact information. Largely a collection of souvenirs to commemorate my various travels, as well as to confuse hell out of anyone I write a letter to from say, Barcelona using stationary from Jakarta, they have always represented potential to me. It’s come to the point that, besides packs of fresh boxer briefs and white Fruit of the Loom tank tops, this is one of the only things my mother can give me for Christmas which she knows will tickle me pink.

We don’t write anymore (except Stephen King), we post, we tweet, we update our status. Letters passe, email is the mode du jour. Greeting cards are getting scarce, e-cards are simply too easy. What happens when the newspapers go so bankrupt as to finally disappear? Will bloggers do their own research? Will we breathe easier with all the excess trees growing untouched throughout the world or will the Japanese buy them all up for disposable chopstick production?

Resist.

Will we forget how to read and write? English (26 letters, 10 numerals and 8 or so punctuation marks) is relatively easy, but what about Gaelic and Welsh, Estonian and Finnish? Japanese people regularly confide that due to the exponential growth and use of mobile phones and computers, they are losing their ability to quickly and correctly write complicated characters. In the face of gradually becoming unable to fluently write an admittedly difficult system, those I’ve talked with seem largely apathetic. The term Shoganai (“Nothing can be done”) is often heard in this context. Despite all this, Asō Tarō’s- the current Japanese prime minister- recent (and largely blogged on) gaffes reading Japanese characters on his teleprompter during press conferences is at least indirectly responsible for a boom in sales of study guides.

Resist.

The world is still largely analog, that is to say related to nature. Digital as it may seem, there are still holes in the net. It is from this imperfection that life forms, that originality comes, that the divine breeds. In the world of electronics the “on” circuit is a closed loop. Turn on the light and the loop closes, flip the switch off to break the cycle. Closed is to running current as open is to stasis. From the looking glass we perceive a reverse image. From the negative a positive. From nothing something, from something nothing.

Without the analog we lose all context of who we are, where we came. We become emotionless numbers on a grid, switches for the puppet masters to flick on and off. Without perception of the surreal, reality becomes meaningless, empty 1s and 0s floating in a vacuum, bereft of true value.

Resist.

Find a mythology relative to the times in which we live. If none exists relevant to your life, make one up. Don’t accept what the screen and its talking heads pour into your eyes.

Resist.

I have long believed that humanity’s greatest quality is adaptability. And yet the changes in our current modus operandi are constant and quickening. How do we keep up with the Joneses and their cloneses? How do we properly perceive whatever it is that is going on around us? String theory? Through the many simulacra we invent to connect us, to keep us close? In one sense it’s a good thing: you need to know what’s happening in the derivatives market to understand what may happen to the price of rice in China. But do we really need 300 satellite channels of the same garbage – Now available in HD!- or realtime updates of what outfit such and such celebrity had on when they checked into rehab, again? Or do we, at a certain level, trust that paper and ink still have value, start writing letters again, sending poetry to faraway loves, pull out that yellow legal pad, ala Vonnegut, and finally write your novel the old fashioned way, illegibly?

In Timequake, the whole of humanity loses free will for 10 years, what Vonnegut Jr. terms the “rerun”. He goes on, “There was absolutely nothing you could say during the rerun if you hadn’t said it the first time.” The thought that still nags me to this day, more than 10 years after I first read the book, and two years since Mr. Vonnegut has passed into the ether, what I always wanted to ask him was, “Did they realize it while it was happening, or only after, or even at all?” Like most important things that happen in realtime, I don’t think they did.

I trust your responses to this missive will be written in Esperanto and sent via carrier pigeon.

World Food Programme © Clive Shirley

The United Nations World Food Programme

World Food Programme © Clive Shirley

World Food Programme © Clive Shirley

When hunger hits the community, children suffer the most. For those children tormented by empty stomachs, it is not going to school that is important, but eating. At present, there are between 350 and 400 million children in the world who are suffering from hunger. Among those who have reached elementary school age, 115 million are not attending. Eradicating the hunger of children who support the future of nations and further educating them is essential for poor countries to escape from poverty and hunger.

Poor families generally do not have enough to eat, and most schools in developing countries do not have kitchens or cafeterias. Children with empty stomachs simply become distracted easily and cannot concentrate on their studies. Such hunger stymies a child’s learning ability. Furthermore, in serious cases of malnutrition, there are even adverse affects on a child’s physical and mental development. This makes the burden on poor countries all the greater.

WFP has been providing school feeding for over forty years in developing countries. In 2007, roughly 19.3 million children received meal support. The aim of this program is to broaden educational opportunities and guarantee that education is being received while at the same time providing highly nutritious meals and helping child development. WFP’s school feeding program serves an important role in helping poor countries escape from poverty and hunger.

Results of school feeding:

  • A striking increase in enrollment and attendance
  • If hunger is satisfied, pupils are able to dedicate themselves to their studies
  • Children are at least able to take one highly nutritious meal a day
  • Even girls who were confined to the home by custom receive educational opportunities
  • Parents choose to send their children to school rather than work

The World Food Programme is the United Nation’s only food assistance program that provides food assistance in developing countries with the charge of eliminating hunger and poverty. For more information, please visit: www.wfp.org

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