World Pinhole Photography Day

Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is on its way. Sunday should be a god one. I’ve got my latest experiment all ready to go. Introducing the Coronet Pinhole Rapide. 0.24mm pinhole, 30mm focal length, 113 degree field of view. The fist roll through is going to be 35mm. Should give me a 90mm x 35mm negative complete with sprocket holes. Let’s hope it works well. And look at that beautiful Jeff Soto print…a thing of beauty.


Vintage Projects

Vintage Projects – “Our goal is to preserve the inspired DIY spirit of the past. Our free project reprints cover farm machines, the woodshop, machine shop, boats, archery and more. These vintage plans come from a half-century ago when do-it-yourself enthusiasts turned wood, metal and old motors into useful workhorses, functional tools, and toys.” [via]


They Call Us Vandals

This review is the first of three reviews of graffiti books published by Dokument Forlag (distributed in the UK by Art Books International). Malcolm Jacobsons’ They Call Us Vandals is an open, and honest, look at the hardcore graffiti scene in Sweden. I’ll be honest, I as a bit wary of reviewing such a book but within minutes I was hooked and couldn’t stop reading. The thing is, I’m not used to looking at proper hardcore graff and don’t mix in writers’ circles so I’m kind of new to it all. I’m also an appreciator of what might be called the more aesthetically pleasing forms of street art too. However, I was pleasantly surprise to not how aesthetically pleasing I found the majority of art inside this book.

The book gets off to an interesting start. It’s not till you see/hear about a female graff writer that you really realise how much of a male dominated movement it is. 17 year old Karma get the first chapter/profile. She studies media by day and paints at night. I know it shouldn’t be worth mentioning because she’s a woman but she’s definitely in the minority and she sounds like a tough cookie. The other writers included in this book are Kaos, Just One, Venom, Pike, Track, Dar and Warm. I’ll admit it now, I hadn’t heard of any of them before. Like I said, it’s all pretty new to me. I’m just glad I’ve heard and read about them now though as their interviews are enlightening. Not only are the artists very open about their history and where they are going but they are also honest about their addiction. Painting illegally makes their “pulse race” and there’s a buzz from working under pressure to get the piece completed as quickly as possible to avoid arrest. It’s also interesting to read how their writing habits take their toll on the artists. Then there’s having to contend with security and the law. Painting while having to look over your shoulder the whole time must be debilitating. I guess it’s very difficult to go out writing by night and live a normal life during the day…and that’s not without the effects it has on their family life, which is also discussed throughout.

The photography in this book is perfect too. There are hardly any closely cropped photos here. It’s as much about the trains, locations, environments, the process etc. as much as it is the end piece. That’s not to say it’s all about the photos but the photos are about as good as graff documentation as it gets. Superb day and night action shots as well as great track side views and more.

In the forward to this book a graff writer, Tarik Saleh, mentions that this book “will likely be used by the zero tolerance league to prove that graffiti is like a drug, addictive and life threatening” and as I turned page after page I couldn’t but be brought back to these words. What comes through in all the interviews/profiles is the artits’ passion. It’s hardly even a conscious decision to write; they have it in them and it needs to come out. The only conscious decisions seem to relate to how and where to get paint, where to actually paint and if/how/when should they stop (if they ever can). It’s such a great introduction to graffiti, not just the pieces but the whole package. I used to always see the end result of a piece as being what it’s all about but have spent sometime trying to step back from it, literally when photographing it and also on a more cultural and social level. It’s served me well as I’ve learned so much more about what goes into the work and also much more about the beauty of the environments that thee writers choose to paint. They Call Us Vandals has only increased my love for the art form, opened my eyes to some of the graff that I didn’t appreciate so much and also to make me want to continue to learn and enjoy the art.

One thing I’ve yet to mention is that the profiles are all inter spaced with equally sized dedicated chapters on all things graff from whole cars (painting the whole of a train’s carriage from top to bottom), legal walls, bombing/tagging and backjumps (hitting a train when it’s in circulation to prevent it from being cleaned before being put into circulation). There are also a few chapters about specific regions including Malmoe, Stockholm and Gothenburg.

It’s quite a big book and is presented in a landscape format. It’s only worth mentioning because my copy is the 3rd edition of it and is a soft cover version. This makes it particularly difficult to read in the bath. So bath time readers beware…either source a first edition hard cover version of wait till you get out of the bath! They Call Us Vandals (ISBN: 9163086115) is soft cover bound, 30cm x 24 cm (landscape format), has both Swedish and English text and weighs in at 160 pages. Like I said at the beginning of this review, this is part one of the trio of Dokument Forlag graff books so look out for reviews of the other books soon on Ektopia