Michael Wolf loves to drill into a subject. He chooses a topic and captures it with both brutal honesty and determined calm. This results in pictures that are shamelessly arresting. Particularly unapologetic and fiercely unafraid, is his series, Architecture of Density. Here Wolf has depicted one of the more arresting visual realities of our modern world, the decidedly impersonal but unmistakably of people, high-density living.
The series, Architecture of Density, taken in Hong Kong, conjures a strange reaction in the onlooker. We are attracted, not only to the magnitude of the vision but to the colossus of these buildings. For anyone not accustomed to such concentrated living, seeing such a crowded and inhospitable housing-scape, is like viewing a current dystopia, unbelievable despite its bricks and mortar, although I am sure they are more towers of steel and concrete. We know people live in each of these apartments and yet the images, creating a kind of dual harbinger of thought and emotion, depict the existence of necessity. They are, in other words, bred from real-life complications while remaining to many of us unimaginable.
Other work by Michael Wolf provides just as substantial a bite. Here are a few to chew on: Industrial, 100 x 100, Informal Seating Arrangements and, a personal favourite, Corner Houses.
Sometimes there’s no explanation for how something makes you feel. Of course, marrying the land to your eye takes specify, some would say even technical nuance. It’s certainly a quality that requires the artist to hunt out form, after which immersion is necessary before a final distillation. What is captured in simplicity will be profoundly and wholly complex. Balance and depth will prove to be perfect.
The sense of it then, and only then, rises rather than distracts from an image. That’s what Nadezda Nikolova-Kratzer has achieved here with Elemental Forms, a photographic series of landscape. She has done the work. Scoping for a particular structure, its configuration in space, in an instant you can interpret the scene, have it sink in and soften you. Let the simple form, textured but basic, have its effect. Let the lack of colour, the lines and shapes build their invitation to you in equal measure of push and pull. Let the sensation increase.
If you want to follow up with more, go here and here.
I have loved listening to The Dirty Three from the first time I heard their music.
This contribution, Toward the Low Sun, is no exception. The closest thing to improvised jazz in a rock form, it enters the soul through enlisting the brain. In the same way that absorbing un-metered beats and swirling notes in the very best of extemporised music does (it’s as if the notes are travelling through the musician as they’re playing) listening to this syntax of sound invites the mind to dance. A wonderful spool of sounds and lines and unclear rhythms, it’s the mesh that needs unravelling, the maze that needs walking, the terrain that needs to be covered. And, as you follow the bridges, and keep up with the disparities, as you catch the multitude of tonal chains and flutters, and feel the roll of percussive drums, you are in a visceral gateway. Soak up the nourishment, the harsh urban drill, the macabre perpetual eerie lilt. Go here to feast on some of their other albums: Ocean Songs, Horse Stories, and Cinder.
When I first started taking photographs, I was fascinated by the geometry of lines: the dense spaces they held, their ability to create change while delivering calmness. Jolanta Mazur has put together a series of photos that allow both space and density to bloom in the eye together. Geometry is the key. The shots dish up a swath of positivity that grounds around in the brain of the recipient. It is symmetry sitting on the shoulders of simpatico.
Colour and place play a part here, not only in the possibility of these photographs but in the richness they produce. Just as importantly, these images tell us something of the people who appear in them. People, after all, are what make this series work. And Jolanta Mazur has organised their placement with structural poignancy, utilising repetition and form to capture the design of life. For more delicious mouthfuls go here and here.
Wayne Macauley is one of my favourite authors. His writing has that daring capacity to capture the bizarre in the ordinary, the absurd in the everyday, and the laughable in the direst of circumstance. Simply put, it champions the urbane among the chaos. All this occurs, not at the expense of poignancy, but as its procurer. Navigating through spiky, offbeat scenes, the stories – all of which I recommend – cruise along the suburban streets of our wealthy and poor alike, conjuring the macabre while managing to do “absolute telling”.
Caravan Story is no exception. Like all his work, metaphor and menace play a part. The ideas are intrinsic from the beginning, and the prose, which is joyously full, creates a calm absurdity that slowly builds into a far darker momentum. Caught in a world of rules and regulations, the young couple at the centre of the narrative have no option but to carry on as things around them become increasingly difficult. This is writing that remains with you in the manifestation of warning bells. Put on your helmet and ride the wave. It’s cause and effect at its best.