A persistent photographer

An interview with Ian Treherne, a photographer with a certain sense of urgency.

“I’ve managed to break a few boundaries along the way”: Meet the blind photographer who captured this year’s ParalympiansIt’s Nice That
Ian says that he enjoys making people question how he can be both blind and a photographer, he likes “hurting their brains. I’m just super happy that I can inspire other people to pick up the camera and tell themselves, ‘I’m allowed to do this,’ because I know people feel like they’re not allowed to do it.” Paralympians, in his eyes, are superhuman: “bloody brilliant”. They’re showing us, he explains, that with a certain level of commitment, practice and dedication, you can really achieve what it is that you want to do.

“The box that I’m being put in is only based on seven per cent of people in the UK. There are people that are totally blind, in total darkness. That’s the universal idea of what a blind person is, but that’s only seven per cent of us, so it’s a really small number. There’s another 93 per cent of people that have been questioned as to why they’re holding a white cane whilst looking at their phone.”

This profile of him from a few years ago gives us a sense of what he’s up against.

How a blind photographer sees the worldBBC News
Completely self-taught, Treherne is influenced by photographers David Bailey and John French – and also by his blindness. With their dark peripheries, his black and white portraits “mimic” his eye condition. “I’m not going to lie, it is extremely difficult for me,” he says. “It is insanely hard working with this tiny window of sight. There are shoots I can’t do but I don’t know any other way and I just utilise what I’ve got left. I’ve never had an assistant, I have done it the hard way.”

Treherne’s window of vision is demonstrated in this representation of his eyesight

Pretty inspiring stuff.

“To challenge with optimism”

An additional Olympic item to mark today’s opening of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

Goo Choki Par designs official poster for the Paralympics demonstrating Para-athletic powerIt’s Nice That
The design studio aimed to convey the idea that “passion cannot be stopped,” claiming that “passion is the hope of humanity that has always been passed on through the ages.” Although GCP were commissioned to create the official poster, the team went on to create all the posters for each of the 22 sports in the games, including canoeing, equestrian, and judo.

The concept was “Unity in Diversity” and this is reflected in the fusion of materials used to create the posters. “Geometric shapes are used to simplify the appeal of the competition,” says Kent Iitaka, “and to more symbolically express the moment when the body is full of power.” Brushes, pencils, and airbrushes were used in order to express speedy movement of athletes and the powerful competition space with passion.

The studio honed in on the dynamism of wheelchairs and artificial limbs alongside the power of sound produced by the athletes’ movements. As Iitaka puts it, “The various charms of parasports, such as the sensibilities of athletes who have been sharpened in the dark, of competitions held in a world without vision, are firmly established in one graphic for each competition.” The posters on black backgrounds are used to demonstrate a competition that includes a blind class – “It expresses the presence of a player who emerges powerfully even in the darkness with his eyes closed.”

It’s all over, you can rest now

So that’s that for another four three years. I didn’t watch that much of the Olympics, but here are some links about it I’ve enjoyed reading. Let’s start with some great photography very much in the style of Pelle Cass, I think.

Decisive moments from the Tokyo Games, frame by frameThe New York Times

Nine of the most memorable moments from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic GamesOlympics.com
Filippo Tortu of Team Italy beats Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake of Team Great Britain across the finish line to win the gold medal in the Men’s 4 x 100m Relay Final on day fourteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 06, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.

I love that photo, the matching poses several feet into the air.

Tokyo Olympics: Toughest Games? Decathletes and heptathletes say probablyStuff.co.nz
The last 18 months brought the pandemic, while Tokyo brought another new challenge, as if the multi-eventers needed it. The scorching heat and humidity at the Olympic Stadium had many of the competitors donning ice vests and dumping ice inside and over their hats to try stay cool.

A memorable Olympics, but for the right reasons?The New York Times
Pushing forth in a pandemic, these Games were meant to be, as the International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said last year, “the light at the end of this dark tunnel the whole world is going through.” Yet they were often claustrophobic, cut off from society, with capacious venues across Tokyo repurposed into cloistered safe houses. They were, in this way, paradoxical, uncanny and hard to wholly comprehend. They were a feat of organizational planning and execution, even amid arguments about whether they should be happening in the first place. They were stubbornly called Tokyo 2020, a retrograde name that reminded everyone of the meandering path traveled to this point.

Such a shame about all those empty seats. All these athletes are incredible, though, in so many different ways.

There’s nothing Adam Ondra can’t climb, but is an Olympic medal out of reach?The New York Times
Ondra, 28, has completed more of the hardest outdoor routes than anyone, and on the competition walls that will be featured at the Games, he is the reigning world champion in lead climbing and the only one to win the world championship in lead and bouldering in the same year. But in Tokyo, equal weight will be given to speed climbing, a fringe event where Ondra’s considerable talents — creativity, problem solving, efficiency — are meaningless.

How Olympic divers make the perfect tiny splashYouTube
If you’ve watched any Olympics diving coverage, you may have noticed that the splashes athletes make are tiny. Divers spend years training to perform with minimal splash, in the same way that gymnasts train to stick their landings. In this video, Team USA’s head diving coach Drew Johansen explains the three major components he uses to guide his athletes towards smaller splashes: the above water position, the underwater swim, and the underwater pike. And while the sport of diving isn’t all about getting splashes, a small splash is the perfect punctuation to a job well done.

The Olympics are more than just a collection of sporting events, of course. Remember that floating head?

Giant inflatables and flying dancers: Olympic art has always turned headsThe Conversation
From Leni Riefenstahl’s film, Olympia, at the Berlin 1936 Games to Speed Skater, Andy Warhol’s print for Sarajevo 1984, artists have contributed to modern Olympic narratives in iconic ways. The purpose of these interventions, not to mention their desired audience, has varied considerably.

Celebrating the legacy of Kamekura Yusaku’s iconic Tokyo 1964 Olympics identityIt’s Nice That
“They were quite cutting-edge and challenged the process of photography in order to create the right look,” says Simon. The second poster, released in May 1962, was a full-bleed photograph depicting a line of athletes shooting off from the starting block against a sharp black background and that striking gold typeface emblazoned below. The photo used American servicemen who were stationed at the Tachikawa airbase as models, alongside amateur Japanese athletes. Its technical mastery is in the painstaking process it took to get the final dynamic image – at the time, blacking out the background digitally wasn’t an option (Photoshop had yet to be born). The shoot took place in the National Stadium on a cold February evening over three hours, with the six runners making around 80 staggered false starts before photographer Hayasaki Osamu captured the perfect shot.

The Yusaku Kamekura meme: From the Tokyo Olympics to Monster StrikeThe Olympians
I was on the Yamanote Line train when I looked up to see all in-car advertisements devoted to Japan’s #1 best-selling mobile game from 2016 – Monster Strike. I usually don’t care about mobile games, but the ad immediately caught my attention – animals in mid-stride racing together, on a dark black background. It is exactly the same concept as the second of designer Yusaku Kamekura‘s poster in 1962, marketing the 1964 Tokyo Olympics to come.

‘A stirring moment preserved forever through typography’: Morisawa, the official font provider for Tokyo 2020Olympics.com
Under our motto, “Enhancing society through typography,” we would like to see our UD fonts more widely adopted and used throughout society. Our ultimate goal is to use typography to contribute to the creation of an inclusive society where people with or without impairments live side by side. For humanity to maintain peace and growth, we cannot avoid embracing an inclusive society.

When ancient Greece banned women from Olympics, they started their ownAtlas Obscura
During these ancient times, women lived much shorter lives, were excluded from political decision-making and religious rites, were forced into early marriages, and then gave birth to several children. Despite the societal inequalities and oppression, women in Greece wanted to play—so they started their own Olympics called the Heraean Games.

Tokyo’s drones and their updating of Kamekura Yusaku’s pictograms were fantastic, and I know I’m biased, being both British and an Underworld fan, but I still think London 2012’s opening ceremony was the best.

And I Will KissWikipedia
His brief from Danny Boyle, the creative director of the Olympics opening ceremony was simple: “Danny wanted to frighten people. He was certain that by the end [of the Pandemonium section], people had to be going: ‘Christ, you can’t possibly do that to us for the next three hours.’ All the way along, he’d leave you with a sentence like that. That’s the kind of direction that leaves you empowered.” Smith also said of the track: “There was to be nothing half-hearted or polite about it.”

And you must check out this version of that footage, the view from the inside.

Top flight fakery

A while ago I shared news of the world’s first AI presenter. And there’s lots here about fake news. But what about taking deepfake-style technology to produce true news?

Reuters uses AI to prototype first ever automated video reportsForbes
Developed in collaboration with London-based AI startup Synthesia, the new system harnesses AI in order to synthesize pre-recorded footage of a news presenter into entirely new reports. It works in a similar way to deepfake videos, although its current prototype combines with incoming data on English Premier League football matches to report on things that have actually happened. […]

In other words, having pre-filmed a presenter say the name of every Premier League football team, every player, and pretty much every possible action that could happen in a game, Reuters can now generate an indefinite number of synthesized match reports using his image. These reports are barely indistinguishable from the real thing, and Cohen reports that early witnesses to the system (mostly Reuters’ clients) have been dutifully impressed.

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(via Patrick Tanguay)

Update 26/02/2020

Just found another example of a deepfake video being used in a, if not true, at least positive sense.

We’ve just seen the first use of deepfakes in an Indian election campaignVice
When the Delhi BJP IT Cell partnered with political communications firm The Ideaz Factory to create “positive campaigns” using deepfakes to reach different linguistic voter bases, it marked the debut of deepfakes in election campaigns in India. “Deepfake technology has helped us scale campaign efforts like never before,” Neelkant Bakshi, co-incharge of social media and IT for BJP Delhi, tells VICE. “The Haryanvi videos let us convincingly approach the target audience even if the candidate didn’t speak the language of the voter.”

Balance and power

If you liked Universal Everything’s films on human and digital movement, you’ll enjoy this visualisation of the kinetics of sports.

Behold the invisible swoosh and swirl of athletic movement in digital artAeon
Forms is a collaboration between the London-based visual artists Memo Akten and Davide Quayolas, and it generates dynamic digital art from the bodies of world-class athletes at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Inspired by modernist and early photographic interrogations of bodies in motion, such as Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No 2 (1912), the project, in Akten’s words, plays with ‘abstract forms, visualising unseen relationships – power, balance, grace and conflict – between the body and its surroundings’.

The video above, Forms (process), shows how the source video was transformed into the final film.

FormsMemo Akten
Rather than focusing on observable trajectories, it explores techniques of extrapolation to sculpt abstract forms, visualizing unseen relationships – power, balance, grace and conflict – between the body and its surroundings.

Playing hardball

An interesting discussion with movie prop designers that just had to include this iconic figure.

The hardest props I ever made
It was very strange because I approached representatives of the company [Wilson Sporting Goods], and they were not interested at all. It just didn’t matter to them. I told them, “You know, we have Tom Hanks here. We have Robert Zemeckis, who did Back to the Future. We have this venue for this ball of yours that is incredible. And it’s named Wilson.” They were very polite, but not interested. I told them, “We’re depicting your product. It’s a wonderful character in this movie, and it saves this man’s life.”

At some point, I called back and got some kind of great sales rep. And she got it. She understood exactly what this was. She said, “Let me see what I can do.”

And the rest is history. So much so, that you can now buy your very own Wilson, as well as a variety of other movie-themed balls Tom Hanks might recognise.

load-of-balls

Sports days

Great to see some more work from this most patient of photographers.

“Crowded Fields” by photographer Pelle Cass
“I’m still fascinated by the body in motion and the strangeness of time (although I’m sick of watching college sports!). To make the compositions, I put my camera on a tripod, take up to a thousand pictures, and compile selected figures into a final photograph that is kind of a still time-lapse. I change nothing — not a pixel. I simply select what to keep and what to omit. It all happened precisely as you see it, just not at the same time.”

sports-days-1

sports-days-2

A year of (mostly bad?) news

They say we all love bad news, which is all we ever get these days.

The media exaggerates negative news. This distortion has consequences
News is about things that happen, not things that don’t happen. We never see a journalist saying to the camera, “I’m reporting live from a country where a war has not broken out”— or a city that has not been bombed, or a school that has not been shot up.

And so we have another something of the year article, this time a hundred news photographs from Reuters.

Pictures of the year 2018

a-year-of-mostly-bad-news-1

Lots of shouting, lots of people in dreadful situations, lots of heart-wrenching tragedies. None of it I really want to show here, to be honest.

It wasn’t all like that, though, thankfully. Remember these, for instance?

a-year-of-mostly-bad-news-2

And if you want more, there’s this year’s Atlantic In Focus series:

2018 in photos: How the first months unfolded

2018 in photos: A look at the middle months

2018 in photos: Wrapping up the year

Will 2019 look any different, I wonder.

How the leopard- I mean football got its spots

That football competition‘s still going on. Here’s a quick look at what they’ve been kicking about.

Turning point: The original goal of soccer’s iconic black-and-white ball design
For decades, each subsequent competition saw an evolution in ball design. Still, most held to a similar format made up of parallel and perpendicular leather strips — that is, until the iconic Telstar ball hit the field during a crucial period of change for at-home sports viewing.

In 1970, the United States was in the middle of transitioning to color televisions. Most households had TVs, but the majority of those were still black-and-white sets. So the new ball design featured a high-contrast array of black pentagons alternating with white hexagons.

Don’t mess with golf balls

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you had a golf ball that doubled in density every hour?

How long would you have before you ran into trouble if you were given a golf ball that doubled in density once an hour?
3PM: It took nearly 4 full days, but we’ve finally arrived: The golf ball actually weighs just a bit more than the Earth does, now. Almost everyone is incapable of moving. Trees are falling down, as are buildings. There are massive earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions.

4PM: Gravity is 3g. Humans that are left alive are gasping for breath on the surface. That is, if they haven’t been engulfed by lava. Earth is starting to shrink. Air pressure is going up, and the Moon is coming for us.

Needless to say, it doesn’t end well.

Mexican earth movers

I don’t really follow sports news, but this story caught my eye. All the children in my daughter’s class at school have been given, at random, the name of a football team from the World Cup to support. Her team is Mexico, who seem off to a great start.

Mexico fans set off earthquake sensors celebrating seismic World Cup win
Mexicans jumping in jubilation on Sunday shook the ground hard enough to set off earthquake detectors after their team scored a surprise victory over World Cup defending champions Germany. The Institute of Geological and Atmospheric Investigations said highly sensitive earthquake sensors registered tremors at two sites in Mexico City, seven seconds after the game’s 35th minute, when star player Hirving Lozano scored. It called the tremors an “artificial” quake.

A little busy out there

Pelle Cass must have the patience of a saint—not because of the number of photos he takes, but what must be involved in stitching them all together.

The dizzying patterns of movement at athletic events captured in composite photographs by Pelle Cass
Although the images are highly manipulated, with over five hundred Photoshop layers involved, Cass notes that each and every figure remains in the original location and position that they were in at the time the photo was taken. His compositional effort is to understand and convey the visual story that unfolded over the course of the sporting event. The artist explains to Colossal, “I scroll up and down, over and over looking for figures I think are interesting. It’s a little like slow-motion Tetris, trying to fit various shapes into various spaces. Then, with luck, a set of coincidences or a kind of gesture or spatial idea begins to emerge.”

a-little-busy-2

Some of Pelle Cass’s images were used in Nicholas Felton’s Photoviz infographics book.

a-little-busy-3

But compare those images with these from South Korea. A similar feel but without any digital manipulation.

Seung-Gu Kim creates Lowry-style photographs of South Korean holidays
Having documented the Korean relationship to the water, as well as recent trends in Korean housing – which sees cities recreating mountains within apartment complexes – one of Seung-Gu’s most recent series focussing on the irony of South Korean holidays, particularly caught our eye. Titled Better Days the series depicts how, as Koreans work extraordinarily long hours, when it comes to going on holiday, they often don’t have the time to travel very far. As a result, leisure parks and entertainment multiplexes have cropped up all over Seoul’s suburbs.

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