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RIP Gustav Metzger

RIP Gustav Metzger

 

I have always loved the way that photography opens up the world to me and the passing of pioneering artist Gustav Metzger has brought me closer to his work. I saw him in 2009 as part of an audience with Marina Abramovich and, since his death, I have enjoyed reading all of the articles about his work, which include the image I took back then, which was added to his Wikipedia Age. Here is a selection of them:

Art News

"Gustav Metzger, the German-born British artist whose work exposes modern society’s will to destroy people and things, has died, according to Andrew Wilson, a Tate curator, who announced the news on Twitter. He was 90."
“Self-destructive painting, sculpture, and construction is a total unity of idea, site, form, colour, method, and timing of the disintegrative process,”

Art Information Network 

"When I saw the Nazis march, I saw machine-like people and the power of the Nazi state. Auto-destructive art is to do with rejecting power.”

Jewish Press

“artists have a special part to play in opposing extinction, if only on a theoretical, intellectual basis."

 

Sarajevo 1984, 33 years later

Today marks the 33 years since the Opening Ceremony of the Sarajevo 1984 Olympic Winter Games and so I dedicated my afternoon to capturing some of its history. The most remarkable location is the Bob Sled track, which was built in concrete and survives to this day. It remains now as a living monument to the Games, although for the locals, it feels also like a forgotten place.

Draped in overgrown foliage and graffiti, I learned that it has become a popular place to come walking and, while the snow was too deep to walk its length today, I had the chance to see a few of its turns.

It's hard to know how to place this as an Olympic legacy. It has become a tourist attraction, that much is clear. Yet, it does not resonate with conventional legacy language. After all, it has become a line of desire, rather than a purposeful sports facility. However, I think it is all the richer for this, and there is something truly authentic about it, as a manifestation of cultural heritage, re-worked by the local community.

Clearly, the 1990s war broke continuity for the city, in terms of many things, but also that Olympic legacy. The cable car running from the city to the mountain venue was lost - but is being re-built I am told. Also, many Olympic buildings were destroyed. So, there is something also compelling about the robustness of this unusually permanent concrete bob sled run. So, I am comfortable with talking about this monument as a feature of Sarajevo's Olympic legacy. Like the most effective legacies, they have to arise from a process of re-negotiation, re-ownership, and be sites of active value creation for a community. This area enjoys each of these features and, for this reason, i'm sure it will continue to be of historical significance and worthy of protection. And if that wasn't enough, you can also mountain bike down the run, which has to be completely awesome!

My trip here has been all the richer for venturing out to see this amazing site and I hope you will agree that there is a beauty to this Olympic heritage, even if it was not the one intended when it was imagined.

Draped in overgrown foliage and graffiti, I learned that it has become a popular place to come walking and, while the snow was too deep to walk its length today, I had the chance to see a few of its turns.

It's hard to know how to place this as an Olympic legacy. It has become a tourist attraction, that much is clear. But it does not resonate with conventional legacy language. After all, it has become a line of desire rather than a purposeful sports facility. Yet, I think it is all the richer for this, and there is something truly authentic about it, as a manifestation of cultural heritage, re-worked by the local community. 

Clearly, the 1990s war broke continuity for the city, in terms of many things, but also that Olympic legacy. The cable car running from the city to the mountain venue was lost - but is being re-built I am told. Also, many Olympic buildings were destroyed. So, there is something also compelling about the robustness of this unusually permanent concrete bob sled run.  

My trip here has been all the richer for venturing out to see this amazing site and I hope you will agree that there is a beauty to this Olympic heritage, even if it was not the one intended when it was imagined.

The Photographers of Rio 206

The Photographers of Rio 206

New article out with The Conversation, focuses on the amazing community of photographers at the Games. Here it is...

Incredible images from Rio 2016, as photographers rise to meet social media challenges

Andy Miah, University of Salford

More than 1,500 of the world’s best photographers flocked to Rio for the Olympic Games, capturing inspiring and surprising images of the world’s biggest sporting event. From Reuters to National Geographic, the games draw professional photographers of all stripes – not just ones that cover sport.

Mario Tama (mariotama), Getty Images photographer. Currently based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by way of New York City.

Everyone’s a pro

But with the rise of digital and mobile photography, capturing the landmark moments of the Olympics is a much harder gig today than it used to be. Countless people inside the venues have their own high-quality cameras – and what they don’t manage to capture, they can find online from someone else in the audience, simply by following a hashtag on Twitter or Instagram.

This army of amateurs – which includes the athletes themselves – can even publish their photographs online without worrying about getting in trouble from the International Olympic Committee – provided they don’t use the images for commercial purposes.

Jessica Ennis-Hill (jessicaennishill) takes a selfie with Usain Bolt.

Getting creative

As a result, today’s professional photographers have to be more creative and more innovative than their predecessors. They have to develop a unique sense of what makes a photograph historically important. And even then, there’s a chance that someone will have the same idea; remember that iconic photograph of Usain Bolt smiling over his shoulder during the 100 metre heat? Well, there are actually two of these.

Cameron Spencer (cjspencois), Sydney based Getty Images staff photographer.

High tech

So, to set themselves apart from the crowd, professional photographers are having to use technology more creatively. There are some remarkable gadgets on show at Rio; from cameras which can go in the water and fly through the air, to rigs which can take 360° footage.

Bob Martin (bubblesontour), photographer and grandfather.

Working for free

Photographers are also having to share more of their work for free, in the hope that this exposure will help them to secure new commissions. Platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Flickr are key destinations for photographers to showcase their latest snaps.

Gary Hershorn (garyhershorn), NYC based photographer and photo editor. Former Reuters, now contributing to SilverHub Media and Getty Images.

Maintaining control

The challenge here is that controlling one’s images online is not so easy, as people repost, copy, and distribute often without seeking permission, paying royalties, or even attributing properly. One of the leading photo agencies, Getty, dealt with this recently by allowing people to use a certain number of photos online for free, using a simple embed code, which links the image back to their website.

Adam Pretty (adampretty).

Going mainstream

Newspapers still want to illustrate their front pages with the iconic image of any given sports event: the photo that everyone expects to see. New platforms attract millions of users, with reports already indicating that most social traffic comes from the photo and video sharing platform Instagram. Social media also creates a simple way of measuring images' popularity through “likes” or “favourites”. So the mainstream media has good cause to sit up and pay attention.

Fun social media stories are also a big hit at the games, as was true of US athlete Ben Kanute, who staged his own opening ceremony, when he couldn’t make the official one.

Mark Reis (mark.reis).

Avant garde artists

With the rise of citizen generated media, the photographer’s future may be in jeopardy: Instagram likes don’t always pay the bills. But challenges like these are often a catalyst for major shifts in how avant garde artists make new work. Consider Gerald Andel – one of the first Olympic Artists in Residence – who is using Twitter’s six-second video app Vine to make unusual work.

A new age

Photography is no exception and to get a glimpse of this transformation in the sports genre, take a look at the work of these extraordinary artists whose work may prove to be indicative of sport photography’s new golden age, where photographers have now become videographers, animators, and much more.

Nick Didlick Nikon Ambassador, professional photographer/videographer and digital imaging pioneer. Exploring and loving the intensely visual world we live in.

Donald Miralle (donaldmiralle), Photographer, Waterman, Husband, Father.“

David Burnett (davidburnettfoto), freelance photographer for National Geographic.

David Ramos (davidramosgetty) staff photographer with Getty Images in Barcelona.

Lucy Nicholson (lucynic) Reuters senior staff photographer. Born in London; based in LA, covering news, sport and features.

Jed Jacobsohn (jedjacobsohn).

Anthony Edgar (anthonyedgar888).

Al Bello (albello55), Sports photographer at Getty Images”

Christophe Simon (christophesimonafp).

John Lehmann (johnlehmann), staff photojournalist with the Globe and Mail based in Vancouver, Canada.

The Conversation

Andy Miah, Chair in Science Communication & Future Media, University of Salford

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Visiting Pakistan

Visiting Pakistan

Last week, I was over in Karachi as part of a British Council project, exploring the possibilities of twinning the city with Manchester. Here are some photos from the week, which was spent mostly in a bullet proof car, or in offices. It was a unique way of seeing a place, that's for sure, and we met some really extraordinary people.

 

#PeaceForParis

#PeaceForParis

This week, I was due to take part in an event in Paris, which was all about how to make cities places of greater intercultural connectedness. However, on Friday, the terrorist attacks in Paris led to my event being cancelled.

For a while, the organizers and the ministry felt that we would go ahead, but the severity of the attacks, coupled with the 3 days of mourning announced by President Hollande led, finally, to it being postponed until the spring. We were only told about this less than 24 hours before I was due to take my flight and, along with other participants and organizers, I felt I still strongly wanted to go. So I did. The event was still cancelled, nobody met, but I wanted to go.

I wanted to go because to not go would have seemed to give in to the terrorists, to accept their disruption to our lives, and to even cease to go about our business for fear of further incidents. To me, it also seemed like the most important time to visit Paris, to show support.

Arriving on the Monday, the city was mostly quietly going about its business. The key sites of the attacks were full of citizens paying their respects, and the media with 24 hour coverage of what was going on. Away from these locations, people were getting on with their Monday, so that's what I did.

I met a wonderful, intelligent French Professor, Bertrand Pullan, with whom I was due to have a conversation within the conference about cities, events, and social change. Instead, we had a lovely lunch in a restaurant he has been visiting for 30 years. We found more common ground in our pursuits, research interests, and way of life than I could ever imagined. His interests were as far reaching as mine and we have led similar lives through academia, good lives.  It was a most wonderfully, typical trip to Paris, one of many I have enjoyed over the years.

Strangely enough, I happened to be in Paris on 9/11; I had forgotten about that. It seems I am destined to be with this city in tough times. I'm fine with that. It is a place that shines through all weathers.







Mamiraua

Mamiraua

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On the recommendation of one of our PhD students, I spent some time at the Pousada Uacari, which is connected with the Mamiraua Institute, an organizational set up in the 1980s to conserve an area of the Amazon that was under threat from logging and fishing companies.  A number of the region's wildlife were affected negatively by this, notably the Uacari, a primate that was near extinction until this programme began.

Thirty years later and the Uacari is thriving again and the local communities have both ownership of the fishing industry and the capacity to feed and grow their populations. The focus of the research here remains the conservation of the natural habitat but there is so much more that they do, including health and education programmes.

The idea of conservation has defined a lot of this trip for me and I have thought a lot about how that concept may have evolved since its rise in prominence in scientific disciplines in the 1970s. It emerged clearly out of a range of disciplines and is intimately connected to the rise of wider environmentalism which defined that period.

Many of the techniques used to underage conservation research are quite primitive, involving experimentation with mimicking conditions in the wild so as to understand whether it is possible to use captive breeding or growing as as step towards a more natural repopulation.

In this sense, science and technology are servants to nature, their aim s imitation not displacement. Alternatively,  science is used to measure and monitor, with a view to establishing things like fishing quotas or simply an understanding of how populations are being affected by human behaviour.

The question I leave here with though has to do with that concept of conservation and how compatible it is with population growth and how much it may have changed over the last 40 years. This seems a nice starting point for a new line of inquiry for me which resonates with the aspirations biotechnologists have for nature. There seems something on obviously incompatible about the two approaches, but reaching this conclusion depends heavily on where one ends up with the definition and meanings of the word conservation.

IMG_7118e copy
IMG_7118e copy

#TotalEclipse

#TotalEclipse

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The morning started off without much expectation. I was Googling how to shoot the eclipse 15 mins before capturing this (nothing helped). Luckily, the cloud coverage was just right for this kind of shot.  

Salford Sonic Fusion Festival

Salford Sonic Fusion Festival

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As each month passes @SalfordUni, there is another amazing thing happening. The other week it was #SonicFusion, directed by Prof Stephen Davismoon who just happens to be best mates with Prof Eduardo Miranda, a remarkable composer and AI researcher at Plymouth, whom I have worked with and known for a few years now. There is a staggering amount of experimental innovation at Salford University and this weekend of really provocative and beautiful audio visual experiences was no exception. Here's what I grabbed during the weekend:

10 years on @Flickr

10 years on @Flickr

This month, I will have been using the photo sharing platform @Flickr for 10 years, posting nearly 1,000 photos per year. For a while, Flickr seemed to lose pace, as other new photo mobile applications like Instagram and even Twitter image came about. However, for a big screen, high-res photo experience, it is still the most beautiful place to visit and I am still 100% behind it. Here is a journey through that decade, with a few highlight images.

2004: At the Athens 2004 Olympic Games with my awesome friend Martin Yelling, athlete, commentator, genius.
2005: The Long March to Freedom, part of the Make Poverty History campaign, Edinburgh
2006: Who's Who in the World? Me, apparently lol
2007: No Nano, Grenoble - while there on a project about nanotechnology :)
2008: Human Futures at FACT, Yann Marrusich, Bleu Remix
2009: De Militarized Zone, Korea
2010: The Reactable, a curious musical instrument, used by Bjork
2011: Christchurch, New Zealand, after the quake
2012: The Scissor Sisters play the Tower of London, around London 2012
2013: West Kirby, home
2014: Sochi 2014 Olympic Games
2015: Rae Morris, Liverpool

Rae Morris opens in Liverpool

Rae Morris opens in Liverpool

Last night, I went along to shoot Rae Morris' first gig in her UK tour, which launches her debut album. It was an extraordinary night and she's clearly going places. A huge treat was also to hear Fryars, who are phenomenal, quirky, and all kinds of interesting. Here are some shots from the night.  

Sport Photography

Sport Photography

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Over the last 2 years, I have got to know a number of remarkable photographers via the International Olympic Committee. It seems to me that sport photography is one of the most challenging subjects to really shoot well and shoot in an original way. I was glad to have a chance to be track side at the IAAF World Junior Championships this week to spend some time thinking about this side of my photography and practising a bit. Here's what I came up with...

"Made in Britain" The London 2012 Games

Last night, the London 2012 Games drew to a close with the Paralympic Games Closing Ceremony. Seb Coe's speech stamped a message on the Games that captured the audience's imagination and will be the defining message of the Olympic & Paralympic Games "London 2012: Made in Britain"  I was lucky enough to be in the stadium for the Closing Ceremony and it was second only to the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in imagination and power. A great closing night! For more photos, click here.

The Transhuman Paralympic Games

The Transhuman Paralympic Games

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The controversy surrounding Oscar Pistorius and Alan Oliveira obscures a deeper issue that is at the heart of the battle between the Olympic & Paralympic Games. It is in their interest to promote different definitions of what it is to be human.

Oscar’s claim that Oliveira had ‘unbelievably long legs’ was challenged by the IPC, which responded by saying that their length was within the range expected of an athlete with Oliveira’s height.

However, looking at their comparative heights, it is hard to understand how this claim holds, but it all relies on a particular definition of what are the normal proportions of a human being relative to their other body parts and this may be the problem.

It has also been said that Oscar could have increased his leg height, but that this would have invalidated his eligibility for the Olympic Games. On this basis, it appears that the range of what is human within the Olympics is narrower than the Paralympic Games.

This peculiarity may be explained when taking into account the fact that, as technology improves, and as Paralympians get better, they may no longer desire to compete in the Paralympic Games, favouring the more high profile Olympic Games.

As such, it is in the interest of the IPC to permit a range of normality that exceeds typical human proportions and thus espouse a transhumanist definition of the human. This would ensure that present-day athletes – and emerging athletes – develop a career and expertise with a prosthetic device that would be prohibited by the Olympic Sports Federations and protect the Paralympic Games from losing their most celebrated athletes. After all, when training as an elite sprinter, it is not possible just to switch from one set of running legs to another.

Similarly, the IOC will want to ensure that their sports federations promote a definition of the human that prohibits Paralympians from claiming an entitlement to compete in both Games. This would avoid any of the complicated debates about whether prosthetic devices are similar to biological limbs, or not – a debate that remains unresolved in the Pistorius case.

Indeed, this may be the only means through which the IPC and IOC can maintain their positions as a distinct, elite sports event. Furthermore, it may be a significant part of the present debate over whether certain prosthetic devices are permissible or not at the London 2012 Games.

Yet, this solution is rather like putting a plaster on a broken leg. It will not resolve the matter in the long term. As prosthetic devices become more radical in their design, using nanoscale components to make them more biological in appearance and function, and as safer forms of biotechnological enhancements find their way into every day life and athletic competition, this distinction will erode.

In this era, the definition of the normal human will also have evolved – indeed, our species will have evolved – and we will find that these attempts to separate able or disable, normal or enhanced, Olympic or Paralympic are futile. In the future, there will be just one Games, the Transhuman Games.

Olympic Hockey

Olympic Hockey

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Around the Olympic park today, I was given 2 free tickets to the Hockey. Who'd have imagined it?

London 2012 Festival press conference

The Rio de Janeiro Secretary of State for Culture joins Director of the London 2012 Festival Ruth Mackenzie for a press conference.