It’s sad that my first post of the year is a reflection on the passing of two of the most important artists of their generation: the cinematographers Haskell Wexler who passed on December 27, 2015 and Vilmos Zsigmond who passed on New Year’s Day.
The annals of art history will not mention these men , because cinematography is not considered an art form, and even cinema is omitted from due consideration of 20th century art. However if you look at their work, it soon becomes obvious that their mastery of storytelling through light shade and tone is as powerful as anything mastered by Rubens or Vermeer.
I was at Camerimage (in Łódź, Poland) in 2008 when Vilmos Zsigmond was an honoured guest, attending the screening of the fine film No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos (2008) by James Chressanthis. The film tells the story of Zsigmond and his friend Laszlo Kovacs, the two Hungarian film students who fled the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary, ending up in the USA where they began their careers and changed film history. Their contribution of the look of cinema is immeasurable.
I had the honour to briefly meet Vilmos Zsigmond at the festival and I can say that he was absolutely lovely.
Film’s achievement is normally credited to the director, but it is a mistake to disregard the camera, since it is the camera alone which makes it a movie. How the camera reveals the image is key to what creates a powerful and memorable film moment.
‘bruise coloured sky’ Łódź, Poland digital photograph, ©Gillian McIver2008
today i have just trawled my photo archive for something beautiful and atmospheric to counter-act they grey November day when I am stuck inside, writing. And so, these images of Paris, romantic, a bit cliche but very much enjoyed in the moment they were taken. Beauty and atmosphere in one’s surroundings really does make a difference.
By the way I’ll just say one thing – people in Paris, yes even in “touristy” areas, are uniformly pleasant, polite and friendly.
WHEN I was growing up in Vancouver the city had a remarkable amount of neon signs. These highly colourful signs advertised everything from diners to dry cleaners. Driving through the city at night in the back of my parents’ car was like vising fairyland. It was amazing.
As I got older I noticed the neon slowly being removed and being replaced with ordinary backlit plastic signage. Much more boring.
I was surprised to find, on a visit the Vancouver Museum this summer, that some of the old neon has been saved and here it is, a glorious display in the museum – which is well worth visiting in any case. I tok these pics at the museum, but it’s better to see it for yourself, if you can. http://www.museumofvancouver.ca/
The Smilin’ Buddha Cabaret was a well known jazz club in the 50’s and I heard rumours that Hendrix jammed there in his youth (he lived in Vancouver for a while) but I have no idea if it’s true. It was a legendary punk club in the late 70s.
The Blue Eagle cafe was on Hastings St. I ate there quite often – stuff like French toast.
The Owl drugstore at 41st, I used to pass it every day going to high school and university.
This auto repair sign is just too good.
The museum display. I spent ages in here, sucking it up. I LOVE neon. Real neon not the crap that “contemporary artists” put out.
AND here’s two more that are still in situ:
You can see more on this great site: http://www.vancouverneon.com/index.htm
This is Fort Konstantin, in Kronstadt. This fort is one of the largest artillery forts of Kronstadt, built in the 19th century. It was the site of fighting in the Revolution and the Kronstasdt Rising, and also in WW2 during the siege of St Petersburg.
Kronstadt, sometimes spelled kronshtad, is an island in the gulf of finland off the russian coast near to st petersburg.
Since the time of peter the great it has been a military island, with a massive naval base. There is amazing architecture and a complex system of forts, locks and canals.
When i was there in 2004-4 it was in severe decay… Here is the first of several series I shot there. These are just the digital photos.