Dana Bubulj: Sculpture, Film, Shadows, Art

Their work, words and wonder

Roundup #1

Pledged to use this more, and to start to amass an archive of information, snippets, ideas going forward and etc. We shall see how that goes. This is mostly due to the Bullet Journal bug, but more of that anon.

Books and Media

Been in a bit of a rut this week with books – perhaps I’m not as invested in the stories I’m trying to get into and it’s thrown my focus. But this’ll shake off soon, I’d imagine. Commuting helps with providing neat chunks of time I can read (when I get a seat).

Finished The Invisible Library, by Genevieve Cogman, a birthday present that’s the start of a series of vaguely magic-ish multiple worlds/dimension hopping, with a slight rose-tint at old pulp genre which is oddly acknowledged throughout by the protagonist in a sweet enough way. Spent much of it planning a re-read of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next books, which engage with meta in a slightly sharper way, though it was enjoyable, and I’m looking forward to the sequel.

Absolutely adored The Expanse on Netflix – the characters were interesting, I wanted to see how the threads unravelled, thought the acting was good (and props for a more diverse casting). It’s a colonist cold war in space – with the breadth and depth that people admire with Game of Thrones – I think. I, predictably, adore Miller, and have ordered the first book or two to start soon.

Also watched the new Planet Earth II, which was great and I really love the ‘diaries’ at the end for the camera-people explaining how they got the shots in the first place without egregious bodily harm on their part. While I acknowledge that narratives are framed around footage for drama and engagement, I felt more than a little love for the albatross awaiting his partner who was running late, something I was not alone in apparently!

Planet Earth II Albatross

Planet Earth II Albatross

Out and About

PJ Harvey, Brixton Academy

This was a phenomenal set that had my friend and I in tears at points. Such a stage presence, such a great band of musicians. The new album sounded great live and I’m looking forward to sitting down and listening to it properly, where I can take in the (very political) lyrics properly. Similarly, it was actually magic seeing songs (particularly When Under Ether and The Devil [live vid]) from White Chalk live, which has been one of my favourite albums of hers. And she ended on The River [live vid], which ended me.

Lazarus, Kings Cross Theatre

We saw this play the night after the morning the US elections were called. Let’s just say that This is Not America hit harder than it might have otherwise. Also it doesn’t pull its punches, with Lazarus the first song out of the gate. Michael C Hall is a very good Newman, and a decent Bowie, come to that. Michael Esper is a similarly good singer as the dark Valentine. Like the original, the women aren’t the best characters and serve as foils to the protagonist when not having a slightly wrought breakdown, But the musical is enjoyable – once you let go of plot and become a voyeur as Newman to the world, letting it wash over you. The staging effects are well done, and I like being able to see the musicians through windows. It will be good to see again, once rewatching The Man Who Fell to Earth so the film is fresher in my mind.

The Tiger’s Bride, Oxford Playhouse

This adaptation of an Angela Carter short story was done in the top room of St Aldate’s Tavern, with a small cast and crew (of which I knew one). I really liked the music (performed live, stage right), and the effects that managed to convey a vast space through wooden frames used as doorways, stairs, corridors. The wirework in the horses and tiger mask were also lovely. Nicely performed, and carried the (crammed) audience with them effortlessly.

King Lear, The Old Vic

It is always good to see the classics done well, and this production, starring Glenda Jackson as the eponymous ruler, was very well performed. I felt a lot of sympathy for Celia Imrie and Jane Horrocks’ Goneril and Regan, as I’m often wont to do. Rhys Ifans was a good fool, Kent (Sargon Yelda) and Gloucester (Karl Johnson) were also strong. The cast did well with the material, though playing the king straight removed the possibility of a set of familial bonds that could have made the text richer. Having said that, the focus was much more on the paradigm shifts between generations and the ‘deserving’ inheritors of wealth and influence. The ‘good’ respect for the establishment in casting out those not welcome (despite Edmund’s actions) is particularly (and ever) prescient.

And while I’m talking about The Old Vic, I saw No’s Knife for my birthday.

Lisa Dwan was phenomenal. I’m not too familiar with Beckett’s writing but this was such a way to get into them (helped in the more abstract passages by captions). She shuck on characters like a second skin, and the bleed between them made for a heady viewing experience.

The Quay Brothers in 35mm (Christopher Nolan), Prince Charles Cinema

I’d not seen many of the Quay Brothers’ films before, though adored the ones I knew, so snapped up these tickets at the marvellous PCC as soon as I saw them. Starting with In Absentia certainly set a fraught mood that left us a bit breathless in the change of reels – but then we’re taken into a short interview/doc with the brothers themselves in their studio space, talking about their work which allows space and time to frame the work in context – particularly given their comments about not wanting to work with [what’s outside the window] but escape it within their puppets and sets. This feeds nicely into two of their films, Comb, which I’d not seen and adored, and Street of Crocodiles, which is one of my favourite short films. It was amazing seeing the films on a large screen, considering the scale of the sets and machinery themselves. The characters have such life, more than the glint of olive oil on their eyes.

The Worthy (Ali F. Mostafa), ICA, part of the BFI London film festival

Wasn’t sure what to expect with this massively violent and somewhat bleak film in a Battle Royale vein. Did enjoy it, though would rather have followed the protagonist’s sister, plot-wise, for her drive (in direct contrast to the Hamlet-like action or not action conflict in main chara).

Spirited Away (Ghibli), Prince Charles Cinema

Fabulous seeing the film on such a large screen (subbed). The colour palates and scenery makes it a feast for the eyes. Also it helps that it had a decent translation of the original dialogue.

Online

2016 Charity Centurion – Summary

Goodness, it’s over, this year’s Charity Centurion with James Webster –  100 pieces of art and poetry in roughly 30 hours, uploaded to an album on Facebook (I’ll try and find a more easily shareable link soon).

We’re planning on selling these to raise more for Macmillan, along with last year’s for Shelter – so we’ll figure out a decent way to show them online. Thank you so much to all those who supported us with prompts across social media and donations (here’s that link to the Charity Centurion Just Giving page). We couldn’t have done it without you.

Things I learned throughout this process:

  • High chairs and low tables do not a happy back make, and by Sunday night I had even more sympathy for copy-monks than I had already.
  • I finally managed to get a handle on the Chinese ink stones I’ve had since uni and not managed to use to my satisfaction.
  • The J. Herbin ink bought from Cult Pens way back when is still lovely and I need to supplement the reds/pinks I have with more blue/green/browns.
    • On that note, I still adore that site’s “Deep Dark Red”, which is the colour of blood.
  • Other stationery note, Papermate’s Ink Joy Minis, bought in a pack from Ryman for a few quid, are amazing.
  • In keeping the initial prompts more hidden than last time, the works were more related to each side as autonomous entities away from their source. Which actually worked out quite well because it allowed them to flourish a lot more.
  • We had a lot more Classical prompts this time around. Which was interesting (and often involved research!)
  • When sleep deprived, Webster’s poetry is fabulous.

Did something fun to the prompt ‘You’ve got it all backwards’ – claiming it and writing a short text piece, forcing Webster to do art (~meta~). Ended up with a four panel cartoon from him, and a nice way to approach the suggestions with a different perspective.

Speaking of doing things with a bit more background prep, there were one or two homages – to old art deco posters, old postcards, and reference books. Should do more of that, I think – as publishing itself is such an interesting and varied visual medium.

I also used one or two pages from a job-lot of old learning-to-read books I bought for this weekend, but didn’t end up using much from. It’s always more satisfying keeping pages removed to a minimum and seeing what you can make from the text in the discarded edges.

Three more favourites under the cut:-

Read the rest of this entry »

Charity centurion

Well, we’re doing it -The Charity Centurion for Macmillan. And it’s quite different to last year.
First impressions after a full first day is that we’ve grown as creators. Knowing the drill, as it were, the room was set up in due time, the tea made. We also had  a benchmark of last year to base our output on. And remembered how hectic the second day was. The second day that’s ahead of us now!
But enough of that, what you want to see are finished pieces. I think both James and myself can say we’re more satisfied with a greater majority of our sides in execution – (to the expense of time taken!) Clearer themes less distracted, more coherent images.
We will be selling these to fundraise further, and go back to the Shelter ones too.
They’ll all be put up later, but 2 of my favourites so far have been:-

“It is 100 years since our children left.”

image

We have counted the days
We have clung to life through hope
And stubbornness
We have kept their rooms exactly as they left them
But for the stains of tears
And the scratches where we clawed at the walls.

When they came back they had not aged a day
But our eyes
So wide with love
Saw the subtle differences
The beady eyes
The jagged nails
Their teeth like tiny knives
We had thought the rats which plagued our village were just that
But now we know better.

And they looked at us like we were monsters
Perhaps we were
The years had not been kind
Sun and worry had worn our skin to leather
But we knew
Despite their pleadings
That when we tore them apart
It was for love.

After so long waiting
We would not allow our children to do this to another town.

Excalibur

image

They really were supposed to be a pair
The scabbard that shielded from all harm
The sword that won all battles
Since losing one, I have become more wound than man
I have forgotten what it was to live without pain
I wonder sometimes what I looked like when I had skin
The days before I carried this hunched agony around
I assume now I must have imagined.
And still Excalibur will not let me die.
But my battle is never done
And I am so tired.
Perhaps I will have a short rest
And when I wake
They will have forgotten who I am
And that I was ever king
That sounds nice.

If you like these and want to support us, please do at our just giving page

*blows dust off*

An update of sorts.

So that Poetry Art Centurion James Webster and I did last year? We’re doing it again, this time for Macmillan, because Cancer is, well, Cancer, and it takes too many. It’s next weekend, and I’m mildly terrified that I won’t be up to the challenge, my ink having gone copper with rust. But it’s a challenge, and we’ll definitely be posting about it on the social medias [links: Pinstripeowl Instagram, Webster’s Tumblr, possibly my [Pinstripeowl] Twitter and the Webster’s Official Book of Faces]

google images screenshot with captions

Webs and I winning SEO for our Poetry Art Centurion. An awkward event name, maybe?

Speaking of Instagram, I’ve been working on a project inspired by Kenneth Rocafort‘s amazing diary page sketches that are a delight of my twitter feed. See also Jeffrey Alan Love. Twitter art makes me happy. Art makes me happy, if happy is the right word. But I digress. This year I started the imaginatively titled ‘ddoodles2016’, which are usually 1-2 minute doodles usually in bed before I go to sleep. Posting to Instagram has, for some reason, managed to keep me on it without ‘cheating’ (well, weekends don’t count) on days in a way I’m quite enjoying when I sit to think about it. Most of them are scratchy and/or terrible, but keeping a routine is doing wonders for the feeling of slight artistic stagnation. I have lots of plans for this year, oh yes.

Luckily his nibs is a joy to work with, and bouncing off someone’s ideas/inspiring/moulding concepts is one of my favourite things. I’ll keep you posted.

Game Mini Review Roundup

Hi All, Taking a break from the #sheltercenturion before Webster and I revisit them properly. But thank you all so much for donating – as of this post, we have raised over £500. I’ll do a proper write up of that shortly, until then you get a random roundup of various games I’ve been messing with recently, from Humble Bundles and elsewhere, on Phones and PC.
Read the rest of this entry »

Shelter Centurion Rides Again

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Day Two of the shelter centurion is about to commence! Will concentrate on completing pieces rather than interweb for the moment. We’re at  practically fifty and James will be, due to the inexorable nature of geography, heading out of the dark metropolis in the eve.
Last (night) we crashed out at fiveish after about 13-15 hours. That’s a going rate of roughly (too long)!

See you on the flipside, and if you haven’t but can, so consider donating!

Shelter Centurion Pt 2

Well, we are 27 in. This is not necessarily the schedule we were planning, but what’s a fundraising challenge without any challenge?

The Fantastic James Webster has been posting quick shots of the finished cards, which you can find at his blog, so I thought I’d take a different tac and comment on the ones I find the most successful as pairs. (also my favourite images/text).

Obligatory Poem About Writing A Poem

I’m sorry.
I’m really sorry.
This process just isn’t that interesting,
like, I write down words on paper.
It’s hardly rocket science is it.
This was a really poorly conceived idea
and I’m absolutely not sure why I tried
it and oh gods I hate myself right now
I’m a fucking failure oh gods why why why
why why why why why why
WHY WHY WHY WHY WHYYYY!?!?!!!!!
Ahem, here is a story about a dragon.
Once upon a time, there was a little dragon.
Their name was the same as your name.
This is to engender sympathy from you, the reader.
A lot of their interests were the same as a lot of your interests. This is also to encourage you to identify with the dragon.
Like you, the dragon was totally alone.
Like you, the dragon had wings.
The dragon stretched his wings and laid waste to the kingdom cos kingdoms are for losers and neither you nor the dragon are a loser.
The dragon made the world what they wanted it to be: which is ‘on fire’.
There is a moral here.

Obligatory Poem About Writing Poetry

Second Star to the Left

“Second star on the left” he said
But the sky was so full of stars
And I’ve always been dyspraxic
(he didn’t understand the word)

I carried straight on til morning
I carried on longer still
I sank my teeth into my happy thoughts
And flew far beyond the stars.

I learnt to sail using Pyxis
I learnt to hunt from Orion
I lost my hand to a crocked star gone nova
I replaced it with a grappling hook.

I made a map of the heavens
And bombed Never Neverland from orbit

I am the girl the Lost Boys lost
But you can call me Captain Wendy

Second Star to the Right [Dana Bubulj James Webster]

Bees

He collects the honey from the bees
Just like he always does

He wears no mask
He wants them to see his face

He uses no smoke
He wants them cogent and clear

He is naked
He wants them to see their target

They sting him
They sting him everywhere
He is a cloud of buzzing, stripy pain

When they disperse
He wakes clutching a small jar of honey
His skin swelling up in swirled scripts

He spends the day reading the poems
The bees wrote in venom across his cells
A lot of the words begin with B.

He doesn’t mind.

Bees [Dana Bubulj James Webster]

I choose you

I burnt the village to the ground when I left
That’s why they call me Ash.

I don’t miss it much, my home was always the smell of sulphur
The flicker, drip and splutter of thick wax candles
The belch of flame from impish throats
And the pentagram fields of battle.

After the auguries, they tattooed my body with protective runes at birth
I summoned my first imp when I was three
My tongue bloody from the inhuman verbs
I murdered my father on my 8th birthday – it was easy.

And once my demons and I have claimed all 8 of the badges of hell
From the hunched overlords and their fattened incubi
I shall open up this earth
And drink it dry.

I choose you [Dana Bubulj James Webster]

 

Favourite poems/images that aren’t necessarily matched by other side in greatness:

Black Dog [Dana Bubulj James Webster]

Things That Are Orange

The fingerprints of god
Left in juice on a tree

The hatchet, just after
When it catches the light just right

The kraken when it rises
And the hysteria tears at our eyes

Rabbits caught by their own lust
And turned to furious, fucking, orange stone.

Your own face.

Everything that burns brightly
But never knows why.

Everything.
Everything.

Everything is orange now.
You hate orange.

Go on, call him,
Sob down the phone.
He too is orange.

 

And ever onwards!

 

 

 

Shelter Centurion Pt 1

Well, the Poetry Art Centurion has started (Donation link here)

Below’s a picture of the first ten/eleven completed pieces, with both images and poems.

People have been fabulous thusfar, providing prompts and donations – we’ve already hit £300, which is absolutely fantastic.

20150516_181116

This is going to be a long day, but definitely one that’s inspiring us – words are getting more surreal, pictures looser. It’s definitely a project we can be proud of. I’ll post a collection of the full images/ text later, though I believe we’re updating the Facebook event page quite frequently.

Right, back to the drawing board!

Poetry-Art Charity Centurion

In lieu of dusting this blog off, I’ve instead got some news to paraphrase from the lovely James Webster:-

With Britain in the grips of a housing crisis (not enough homes being built, ever-increasing numbers of homeless households, both house and rent prices spiralling up out of reach) and with a government promising further cuts to vital services, we wanted to do something to help.

As an artist and writer who’ve collaborated before on projects (including a work published in Issue 1 of Verse Kraken), we knew we wanted that help to involve putting our creative output to some concrete use.

So, inspired by the efforts of previous poets who’ve completed the ‘100 poems in a day challenge’, we are setting ourselves the task of creating 100 pieces of poetry/prose infused art in the space of a single day: Saturday 16 May.

If you’re able to spare anything at all to sponsor our efforts, we would be incredibly grateful. If not, then tweeting us some support during what promises to be a very long day would also be fantastic.

1. Sponsor us! The Justgiving page is here. All support would go to Shelter.

2. Share us! The more people you tell, the more support we get and the more people will see the creations on the day.

3. Inspire us! That is a lot to create, so we need prompts and things to base the pieces off! We can be contacted both on our blogs and elsewhere on the wires (@websterpoet and@pinstripeowl).

We’ll most likely be blogging about the work as well, so do keep an eye out for developments.

Impressions of ‘Public Enemies’ (2009)

This was on the telebox the other night and I wanted to write something brief about its camera&etc work that struck me. Both as a note to myself as I found it interesting and to wake up this languishing blog. When I initially saw the posters for Public Enemies, I was quite excited. Depp & Bale in 30s get-up, with gangsters and tommy guns – that sounded quite the draw. I didn’t get around to it and it fell off the peripheries of the map, as is so often the case.

Theatrical poster

I hadn’t noticed the director at the start of the film, Michael Mann, but despite that was throughout the film regularly thinking about his 1995 film Heat, which was a much more compelling viewing, perhaps because the characters were given far more emotion with which to work. Working from non-fiction does not preclude characterisation. In fact, I’d argue that given these people are apparently such big things in the American consciousness of history, they should be human. Obviously they’re not played for larger than life, instead a more real, world-weary greyness, but there shouldn’t really be more emotion in Bale in Equilibrium. The silent looks of welling tears can only be used *so* much before they look a bit bizarre. 

Also oh god the camerawork, it was so distracting. Digital hand-held cameras with little to no soundtrack except diegetic snippets of music from the era, particularly with a sparse script, left me cold. Rather like a Van Sant film than what you might imagine from the premise. Actually, that comparison seems more apt now I come to edit this post. From my paper-scrap scrawls mid film to the draft of this, I looked at one or two easy-to-find reviews online and was struck by Douglas Messerli referring to Depp’s turn as “balletic”. As a film of set pieces, it might have been more effective using entirely diegetic sounds/recordings over their live action. Or even using the news reports of the time – like a montage effect but with less cheesy-80s connotations.

Did I want a blockbuster, action-packed and adrenaline-pumped? Not particularly, but some life would have done – even if the protagonists were intended to seem so tired. It all seemed a bit flat. Contrast with a quiet character like George Smiley from Tinker Tailor Soldier SpyHe says little and yet remains quietly compelling. Am I just naturally more drawn to Gary Oldman? Hm. He works in contrast to the more emotional characters, particularly near the climax of the film. At the climax of Public Enemies, or rather, the multiple catch-release shoot outs, I was periodically looking at the clock going “well, there’s an hour of the film left, so clearly there’s no danger here”. The deaths of the surrounding characters were meaningless to me because they were not given a chance to exist for us as an audience.

You know what I think the most effective scene of that film was, tellingly? It was at the theatre, with Dillinger watching Manhattan Madness, and truly feeling, I think, a connection to the idea of a character that no longer existed in the world. Both him and Purvis, the script is at pains to point out repeatedly, are perhaps more comfortable in the older days of chasing criminals through orchards, without the science and the morally conflicted methods of the new Bureau. Had the film wanted to go down this route more and make a point about the shifting paradigm, then yeah, it’d be more focussed. As it was, it was too emotionally detached. The love between Dillinger and Frechette (Cotillard), didn’t bring any dynamic either: there were early warnings to avoid the women because blah blah old trope of attachments are dangerous, but it isn’t delivered. There’s no real arc to speak of, and it watched like a historical document rather than bringing that history to life, which with some more innovative use of archival sound, it could have, compellingly.