Nolite te bastardes carborundorum: When the World is Against Our Dreams

We all have bad days. A few of us have terrible days. A minority face trouble on an almost daily basis: non-conformists are never left alone to carry on in peace. Today was one of those days when the struggle was palpable, and I just wanted to hide from the insane requests and mindless criticism. Hiding, however, only adds to the resolve of our obstacles and if there is one thing that I have learned, then it is to push back hardest when things are darkest. Push back with mindfulness, but push back hard and with purpose.

As the school year winds down, I begin to prepare for two months of freedom while working harder than the rest of the year so that I may be truly free. The meetings, marking and tying up of loose ends consumes almost every moment of my day until the brink of collapse; that is when the sharks appear in the murky waters. After twelve years working in my profession, and eight years at university, I have resolved that if people are tossing roadblocks in your way, then you are probably right, you are probably creating new paradigms to upset the old, and your success is probably making them jealous/worried/annoyed. Lay on, MacDuff. Lay on!

For this blog, I decided to scan three images from forgotten roll of film that I just found in a film back. Taken in Barcelona, each of these images capture architectural sculpture from Gaudi and Miro. While I had not been a fan of either gentleman in my Art History studies, seeing the works in Barcelona made me fall in love with their iconoclastic approach to shapes and expectations. They are full of the imagination and dreams. The long towers and sloping curves are unlike any of the puritanical towers of North American cities; Gehry tries to be cool like these guys, but fails due to his conservatism. Perhaps that is the misery of North American society: it often fails due to the conservative critics of the Republic who strive to grind down the different, to crush the non-conformists into dust.

All of the photos were shot on Kodak Portra NC 160 film, and attempt to focus on one part of a bigger landscape. The first image uses Photoshop CS6‘s new tilt-shift blur filter, which I really love. After using the actual tilt-shift of the Linhof 4×5 camera, I feel like I have a pretty solid approach to using the file authentically. They photographs make me yearn for a week in Barcelona.

I will carry on. I may feel slighted when the grind becomes too hard [I mean I am a good person who tries to do the very best for people], but I have been in much darker rooms and will always find my way to the light. My light is the first leg of my summer travels [San Francisco, Vancouver, Portland, Prince Edward Island], and I am looking forward to getting out of Toronto for a few weeks. The second leg remains a bit of a mess. I have looked into a solo week in Europe, a canoe trip in the Yukon, a motorcycle ride through the American Rustbelt, and even a week in New Orleans, but flights are a disaster so far. Hard to say what will happen…

On the work front, Graeme Cameron is dropping off at least three new axes for me to work with on white background shots, and experiment with for a few product photographs. This is undeniably the most fascinating and technically challenging work I have done, so I am energized to begin. There is also a really super-cool fact attached to the incoming job, but I cannot really share the details until a much later date – very cool, though.

Lastly, the title for this blog comes from Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The protagonist, Offred, finds the latin words carved secretly into a cupboard and uses them as a mantra to protect her from the atrocities she must face in the Puritanical society she lives in. Translation: Never let the bastards grind you down.   Words to live by, I think. 

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