Weddings; the step change in my tennis game isn’t a fluke; the maximum limit of my concentration; I keep on having to throw out my vlogs about The Week because there’s always a new issue before I can wrap the vlog post about the last issue; undaunted, I post lots of examples illustrating why The Week rocks; the Ritz is badly in need of refurbishment; the people with taste, refinement and style have no money, whereas the people with taste are usually tacky and uneducated; checking out Jorie Jewellery‘s arresting deer tusk jewels at Harvey Nichols with the designer.
[Main topic of this vlog: I explain why I want to write a book about the evolution of the photographic image and associate, riff and reflect free-form on the subject.] I leave London at an ungodly hour in order to meet John at the antique dealers’ fair in Long Melford; I end up buying an Ironstone pitcher from the turn of the century; I’m intimidated to walk around the hall by myself because it’s full of (only) superannuated white men. Yes, I’m serious; My favorite house in the countryside (so far): the pink house in the center of Cavendish; I seriously mull the idea of writing two books, one about environmental photography, the other about the evolution of the photographic image over the past thirty years, especially these past ten; Not only should the evolution of the image itself be considered (technically and technologically) but the ethical and societal implications of these shifts and what they mean for our interactions with others, our self-image, our morality, etc. THAT is the principal reason why such a book would be fascinating and why this question has piqued my interest so ferociously; Here are the issues about the evolution of the photographic image that I have identified very quickly: 1) photoshopping, its prevalence and universal acceptance 2) the selfie (and its implications for our body image, self-image and psychology) and 3) the democratization of photography (i.e., the phenomenon of everyone becoming a photographer); documentary, “objective” reportage in the style of the Magnum photographers has mostly gone out of fashion and been replaced by a much more subjective style of photography which uses photography as the instrumentality of content or messaging, frequently activist-style messaging, to wit, environmental photography; that’s largely explained by the democratization of photographic technology which enables the man on the street to mimic the style of most news photographers these days. It means that the value-added of the photographic image originally conferred by mastery of equipment and darkroom processes has been replaced, of necessity, by content and meaning. To my mind, that’s a major and welcome improvement in the culture of photography; similarly, realistic, gritty photography in the style of Terry Richardson and Terry Jones (ID Magazine) are now outmoded; gardening is futile – by definition. I don’t get it; not having a Facebook page is really stupid because Instagram is a really impoverished and unsuitable platform for sharing third-party content, especially textual or lengthy, or, for that matter, my long-form rants about capitalism, art, the environment, millennials, child rearing, etc.; my favorite stories on Instagram are Eva Chen‘s because she’s so real, with huge doses of thankfulness and humility. Plus, she’s completely average-looking; My vlogging as a talking head is stymied because my intention to vlog about The Week, my favorite magazine in the whole world, has been defeated by the near unanimity of commentary on the past three weeks of headline news, dammit! (The Week’s strength is collating and summarizing the full range of political opinion on the same issue, news or topic, even when those opinions are diametrically opposed to one another); totally psyched to discover that Macron’s wife is way older than him; and that he may also be bi – ha!
I start the day with a Facebook fail; I’m interviewing photographer, Edgar Martins, next week in London, at the recommendation of a FORMAT Festival curator. Like Konstantin Bessmertny, whom I just vlogged about, he’s from Macau!; it’s outrageous that Maria Sharapova is back on the professional tennis circuit; my 18-year old son is much more organised than I am; experiencing a crisis of self-confidence after realising it won’t be easy to start my new business, I call an old, very good friend, who spurs me on to hustle, a simple but effective exhortation; I spent most of my day editing footage of FORMAT’s artistic director, Louise Clement Mazmanian; much of my day is about music discovery: one of the best resources for royalty-free music is a site called PremiumBeat; after listening to countless tracks on the site, I find a perfect backing track for a project; but of course, I can’t buy it until the client has A-OKed it. Therefore, and in the meantime, I need suggestions from you for an interim specimen backing track which can be used for aural illustration. Any ideas?; pressed for time, I listen to the work of Johann Johannsson who composed the music for Arrival to find a suitably uplifting “human drama” track; his music is perfect; in a related observation: it’s interesting to note how contemporary classical music which is otherwise unbearable to listen to takes on a totally different sci-fi character once the sound of a distorted human voice is overlaid, another, different type of music discovery. You listen to the track in question here; tonight is one of the only occasions when I have to look semi-decent because I have a dinner with civilised people — in the countryside. Not being able to find the single one piece of clothing I’m looking for, a pair of brown corduroys, I put on a Dior Homme suit instead and wear it with my faux mucking out boots from Frye; having been in the fashion industry for so many years, I can make almost any outfit match; I never owned or bought a pair of brown shoes my entire life — until now — giving you some idea of how I’ve been a country chic virgin until now; dinner with the Brexiters was fun and memorable. Contrary to what you may think, there are quite a few people like me in the countryside!; it’s long overdue to vlog, with myself as the talking head; I watch Agon, a ballet by Stravinsky choreographed by George Balanchine. (And, frankly, it’s too conventional for me to vlog about.)
Still learning to use the video camera before pushing off to Derby for FORMAT 2017; British traffic sucks; Wind farm; Derby is cute and historic; the founder of FORMAT, Louise, not only established the art and film center, QUAD, in Derby. But the UK’s biggest photography festival, FORMAT; clearly, I’ve been slacking and doing nothing these last ten years; when we met in Hong Kong, I had no idea about the magnitude of what she’s built; I assume Derby is safe because there’s no one on the street at night (????); I can’t believe Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s development agenda is so vacuous. Based on the intentions he stated during the recent F8 developer conference, his top technological and commercial priorities boil down to adding idiotic fripperies borrowed from Snapchat and Pokemon Go. The fact that a platform as powerful as Facebook needs to borrow and copy rather than pioneering its own ground-breaking initiatives based on its founder’s deepest ethical and entrepreneurial convictions is disturbing and disappointing enough. But it’s even worse that his top priorities are so devoid of social, political, environmental, cultural value; for example, he should really be implementing innovative, badly needed functionality which automatically identifies and eliminates fake news and enables greater participation in the political process rather than spending tens of millions developing three dimensional smiley face stickers; imagine other multi-billion dollar companies like Unilever, Lockheed Martin or General Electric pursuing similarly mindless agendas: it would be entirely unacceptable to shareholders and the general public. That’s the problem with a thirty-something year old developer (computer science engineer) without any sociopolitical consciousness let alone conscience wielding enormous power. It’s just as worrying to think that this is the sort of person spearheading crucial technologies like virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Zuckerberg needs a conscience internship with Bill Gates!; it pissed me off so badly, I taped a full vlog post on the topic.
Facebook announced its principal areas of focus and R&D during this week’s F8 conference. Call me naive. But I’m disappointed (that’s a very mild way to put it) that Mark Zuckerberg is just another tech entrepreneur mindlessly chasing numbers instead of exerting some moral leadership. He needs to grow up and get a conscience – URGENTLY. [I taped this vlog on the spur of the moment explaining the terrible lighting and my weirdly recumbent posture. Notwithstanding the aesthetics, I’m glad I did it.]
Daily vlog diary: The economic tax of slow internet in the countryside; until now, I’d taken high speed broadband for granted and considered it a god-given right; what it means to be an artist – not that I’m a good one, of course; my son, Sam, helped me realize that I have an obsessive, nearly pathological artistic need to vlog; it’s quite possibly the most liberating thing that’s ever happened to me as an adult; now, I don’t worry about being popular or building a following and just follow sheer personal conviction; my biggest life-hack is religiously reading The Week; my first visit to London Chinatown; my cousin, Yang May, talked about her upcoming play, Butterfly in Blue Jeans, at China Exchange; Asians are probably the biggest users of Dettol in the world. All my cousins had a bottle in their handbags and one cousin was wearing her Dettol on the outside; home in time to enjoy a cocktail with John and Patrick.
Daily vlog diary: Felled by jetlag; changing my style of posting Instagram stories to Mark Suster’s Snapstorms style – a single continuous thoughtstream; but I’m still going to make random, silly, personal story posts – of course! The joys of trawling dealer antique shows; my finds there à la Antiques Roadshow; antiquing is similar to museum-going in today’s day and age – consumerism and material culture prior to plastic and mold injection manufacturing.
Daily vlog diary: Now safely ensconced back home in the countryside; today’s publishing is mostly mercenary and in the pocket of advertisers, but not in-flight magazines; internet in the countryside blows; that’s why they sell DVDs at grocery stores in the countryside; vlog attempt (to explain why Vikings smashes pernicious female stereotypes) defeated – but only for today.
Daily vlog diary: The cleansing power of tennis; I forgot my wedding anniversary; Beauty & the Beast versus Lala Land; Skiving instead of buckling down because of Kyrgios v. Zverev
Daily vlog diary: Why I’m quitting Snapchat after one day; Cultural misappropriation #megafail starring Gene Simmons face paint; How, in Hong Kong, anyone can hang out their shingle, literally; Sick rents in Hong Kong; I finally make it to Ping Pong Ginoteria – after FIVE years; My reaction to being invited to write a column for a society magazine.