Little Dragon + Billygoat @ Fortune Sound Club Make For Inspiring Evening of Unique Art + Music

Now that the expected slump of the holiday season has passed, live music in Vancouver is kicking into high gear again. I shot my first show of 2011 tonight: Little Dragon + Billygoat @ Fortune Sound Club.

It was nice to return to Fortune. It’s where I shot my first professional show last year: Kid Sister, who was a wonderful surprise, a fantastic high energy performer. A blast to shoot; she really got me started off on the right foot!

The show tonight was quite a treat.
One of the things I love about shooting live music is that I see performances I may not have, if I wasn’t assigned to shoot them. Tonight, for example, I knew about Little Dragon, and was excited to see their brand of synthy-poppy-electo dance stuff.

But I hadn’t heard about Billygoat until tonight, when I researched them in preparation for the shoot. Their music is very minimal, more emotion than noise, but it all makes sense when you watch their intricately created animations, because it is the visuals that are the centre of attention, the band is merely providing the score.
The animations are marvelous: hand created stop motion people and shapes and things, flat objects with shadows, layered in a way that made me want to touch them. It was a very inspiring show from this group from Portland.

Except for the bright animations from the projector, the show (both acts) was quite dark, which always makes for a challenging shoot.
But I tried something a bit different tonight – I lowered my shutter speed instead of raising my ISO. I found that high ISO’s will take in too much light, and when a performer is bathed in the dreaded red light (or blue or yellow, but red is definitely the worst), s/he drowns in it. Huge swatches of skin lose detail, they become big patches of flat colour. So I experimented with keeping the ISO low for detail, and pushed my shutter as slow as I could go and still avoid blur.

I’m moving the pics from my camera to my computer right now. I’ll post pics sometime tomorrow (Wed Jan 12).


Beauty In Flesh, Beauty In Art (Tortured By The Craving To See)

Does being fit make a person better?
Are they happier than someone unfit?
Does being with a fit person make you love them more? And if so, is this love a genuine, deep love, or is it just a surface love?
If they are fit, will you allow them more mistakes? Can they get away with more?
Why does it disgust me when an overweight person eats candy or cookies or other fatty food? Is it concern for their well being, or is it something more selfish?

What is it about weight?
About needing to be fit to be attractive? Is it just bred into us because of the media?
X-large men and women, pear-shaped men and women, saggy men and women, all of these people, why don’t they seem attractive? Is this one of those things that can be blamed on “The Media In Western Society?”
We like to blame the faults or the hangups of society on the modern age. For example, that people are convinced to aspire to an ideal, to an Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt existence, when these two people are probably far from perfect.

But I want to look further than this excuse. I can’t just blame The Media In Western Society and call it a day.
So I’m going to flesh out my questions about beauty in flesh and beauty in art over the following paragraphs. I am going to be blunt, I’m going to be honest.

I am not as fit as I’ve been in the past. I am just naturally thin.
Does my thinness make me better than heavier people? Can we bring this to a natural selection type analysis? Would I survive in a hunter gatherer society because I am naturally slim and strong? Does this makes me better, more successful, more worthy of life and love, than my twin, who is overweight?

Is it wrong of me to worry about my choices for a romantic partner, when her body’s shape deteriorates? Isn’t it all about what’s inside? If a person is a good person, a wonderfully giving and caring person, isn’t this enough to love? Even if she were slim, wouldn’t there still be characteristics that would be undesirable? Like flatulence? Burping? Bitchy spoiled bad attitude?
Slimness doesn’t equal a perfectly matched partner. Or does it?

I am not perfect, physically nor mentally. Why do I expect perfection in my partner? Is it because, despite my imperfection, I strive for perfection?

But my current image – quite thin, bearded, sloppy hair, pale skin, wearing fairly ordinary clothes, a left upper sleeve tattoo, average 6 foot height, these are not the qualities of every woman’s dream. My door is not being knocked down by throngs of women.
So why is my view of the physical body torturing me?

It must be because I am so heavily (pun intended) visual.
It is the arts that I love more than anything. Music, yes, but also photography, drawing, painting, video, writing, and while I can love all portrayals of art – the ugly, the challenging, the odd – I love the beautiful.

I am unceasingly in love with natural light in photography, how it creates a pleasant peaceful otherworldly mood.

I love balanced text that encourages me to reader further – when headers are a nice large bold size, I can see without actually reading, that I am coming to or just finishing a section. When the text’s line height is just so, so that I needn’t strain to differentiate lines.

And the female form – I can not, will not ever be able to get enough of a curved, wonderfully proportioned body.

My earliest memories of being attracted to a woman are of a woman with full breasts and hips. I adore the hourglass figure.
I can not understand modern man’s obsession with stick figures, those runway models, those flesh hangers. Or what I like to call preteen boys. No boobs, no hips, just a straight stick body. There is nothing there to admire, to view as artistic beauty.

But the trouble is that no actual body exists that is in perfect proportion. Thick ankles, double chin, spare tire waist, they exist in different amounts and different proportions and it upsets my eyes.
I look at magazines online, knowing full well the power of Photoshop, yet that is what I crave. Reality disappoints me.

Am I a terrible man? Expecting perfection in reality? Or am I just a gullible man who, despite being intelligent and strong, has been conned by marketing’s ploy to convince me to adore the unreal?
Sometimes I think not. I believe I have seen the hint of perfection, perfection so beautiful I accept her flaws. When most of the pieces are there, the hourglass figure, the bright eyes, the full smile, the smooth glowing skin, I can accept the blemishes, the thick ankles, as though they are the painter’s buildup of layered paint, the natural flaws in the marble.

I crave a living art piece, nay, I crave art.
I accept now, by writing this, that perfection does not and cannot exist in human flesh. For we are always changing.
This is the problem. Whereas painting is and always will remain the same (barring water damage or breakdown from greasy hands), a human body is in constant flux. We are, after all, living creatures made up of breathing cells, living, dying, repairing constantly, and that means that we will look different day to day, and especially so year to year.
I could, for example, look “better” (more fit, stronger, fresher skin, brighter eyes) at 40 than I do now at 34, if at 40 I am exercising regularly, getting good amounts of sun, stress is minimal, and am feeling satisfied sexually and artistically.

Another negative aspect of change is this: even if a painting remains the same forever, I do not. So, if I, as classifier of that painting as beautiful, change, I may change to see that painting as less beautiful.
Being a constant listener to music, this has happened to me. For example, I discovered Four Tet years ago. I adored his music immediately.  But, due to a disappointing live performance (in which he literally pressed play on his iPod then proceeded to twiddle knobs) I like him much less now.
He was once one of my favourite musicians. I thought he could do no wrong. His original work AND his remixes filled me with a joy. But now, I delete him from my playlist to make room for other artists. I delete these songs even though they have not changed. The exact songs that I’d turn up loud to fill my air with sweet sounds to breathe, I now want no longer.

Are we (am I) destined for disappointment?

I believe the last thing I will ever do is lower my expectations. It’s not in my nature.

As well, I will always be looking as long as my eyes continue to reflect the world into my mind, into my body.
My eyes crave beauty. This is not something I can change.
What I must do, though, in my own expectations, is be more willing to express my opinion when a piece of art no longer fulfills me. For there are so many more to view.