“There weren’t any curtains in the windows, and the books that didn’t fit into the bookshelf lay piled on the floor like a bunch of intellectual refugees.”
― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart
"In Copenhagen space has always been an issue. Tables are almost touching, which is a bit of a nuisance. You are just too close to other people, to other conversations, you can sneak glances at the food other people order - you can't help not doing it. In turn, the neighbours on both sides of your table glimpse at your choices and a kind of absurd and concealed little competition starts so as to secretly decide who has ordered the most tempting and daring meals. It is indeed a bit of an inconvenience."
― Toni Font
Two for the price of one...
Welcome to Toni Font, a dear friend from Valencia who shoots wonderful minimalist photographs and writes like Murakami.
We'd been contacts on Flickr for a couple of years before meeting in person in the summer of 2011. Rendezvous was Santiago Calatrava's City of Arts and Sciences where we enjoyed a drink in the middle of the Umbracle and Toni told me about his passion for running, his love of Japan (and Murakami) and his career as an astrophysicist. Just over a year later we met again in Valencia and I introduced him to JiBBR. Well, to be honest they knew each other already but that was from Flickr and now they got to walk and talk together while being guided through Valencia's Old City to beautiful places only the locals know exist. A very special evening.
As much as I love his photography, I am captivated by Toni's writing. The style is simple - though not simplistic - and sits perfectly with his images, working together to feed the curious mind. Imagine my delight, therefore, when Toni wrote intriguing little passages - with titles to boot - to sit beneath each picture in this selection. So, one more Murakami quote, and then on to his Potpourri of eight images.
Thanks so much Toni!
“If you can’t understand it without an explanation, you can’t understand it with an explanation.”
― Haruki Murakami, 1Q84
"This is sort of intimidating.
"Anyway, when Tom kindly sent me his request I accepted in a heartbeat. I like making lists so coming up with a collection of my 'special' pictures seemed like a trivial thing to do, a piece of cake. A good many heartbeats later I was however still trying to assemble a compilation. It finally dawned on me it was going to be much easier to actually select eight discs to take to a desert island than eight of my own pictures. Part of the problem is, I suppose, I can judge other people's work far better than I can judge my own. In the end I decided to approach Tom's request by producing a set of pictures that could perhaps be seen (and read) as a continuous, coherent single entity. Despite a text accompanies each picture they have not been written with the purpose to describe the images. (Writing is just a favourite pastime.) The pictures are simple enough to render a description unnecessary. That said, a few of the tandems image-text may actually go together reasonably well.
"Regarding photography I'm pretty much on the amateurish side with little knowledge of the technical tricks of the trade. A passion to take pictures gradually grew through trial and error and the feedback from a precious pool of talented contacts at the Flickrsphere. I was not anticipating it but soon after I joined Flickr I realised I like simple images, and the simpler they are the more I like them. Patterns, shadows, negative space, and simple, clean forms, are obvious recurrent themes in my shots. As a minimal photographer I am fully aware of the implicit challenge to bring beauty to simple images. The struggle to come up with attractive simplicity is still the number-one reason of excitement I can find in photography.
"Thank you so much Tom, I was flattered to be asked."
1. discontinuous shadow of ivy plant on white-striped fence
The man shoots at every possible spot he finds picturable. Spot, or scene, or situation, or place, or thing, animal, or human being, all alone or in groups or all of the above in simultaneity. Digital cameras allow for such spasmodic incontinence. Now he pauses to listen to the Russian guide, who in a strong Slavic accent turns the attention of the flock of tourists to the nearby ginkgo. It was there already when they arrived. It has been steadily growing there since the day the local authorities kindly invited Goethe to plant it. The man’s interest in the maidenhair tree suddenly stirs. It is no longer an ordinary ginkgo as the dozens of unremarkable trees in Weimar. It’s the one the great Goethe planted. He sneaks out of the crowd without anybody noticing, convinced that that quality alone makes the tree worth a picture.
2. door handle
There’s a window, and a parking lot ceiling which moves about revealing a late afternoon winter sky high above the ground. There’s the side of a white five-storey building with black big letters across the top, and the sound of an engine car negotiating a mild slope. And there are trees, eucalypti, which slip past the window at high speed, and phone posts, and wires that hang between those. There’s birds sometimes, seagulls, and clouds above occupying room in the stage. There’s the elongated white smoke of a jet’s wake, slowly fading away at the far end. There’s traffic lights too and invisible forces and holes in the tarmac and bumps at a railway, a siding by then. And there’s suddenly a multitude of buildings past the window, and lights and voices and a forest of antennas, and a Cartesian grid of windows, balconies, and façades, all speeding up and down past the window. And there’s the loud noise of a metallic garage door sliding up, and the two consecutive bumps in the pavement’s kerb and the step into the garage, and the sight of a dim-lighted bulb much too covered in dust in the corner. And there’s a boy lying flat on an old car’s back seat, making ready to get out.
3. drop me a (wavy) line
Matter-of-factly a silent tear rolled down her cheek once. Only one. It was, however, a significant evidence for a woman that had never cried before and was never going to cry again. That single tear, a salty droplet shed without effort, neatly split her life in two unrelated, symmetric halves. Success and failure merged in that unique event to set out back and forth in separate ways to become the ruling feature of her past and her future, her white and her black.
4. a frank exchange of views
Einstein in Prague, an ordinary day in the late 1910s. The wise man looks through the window overhead a snow-covered pavement. A wall runs along the street bounding a spacious garden in which plants and trees are left to grow disorderly. From his vantage point he sometimes sees men in isolation deeply engaged in soundless meditation, walking absent-minded to the rest of the world. Sometimes, however, he sees men gathered together in groups vividly discussing matters he can’t guess. Someone tells him that the garden he faces is the recreational area of a sanatorium. He thinks to himself that the men he sees from the window are the madmen not working in quantum mechanics.
A one-foot wide ledge runs along the outside wall of a timeless church, encircling the entire building at waist level. An endless amount of letters are evenly distributed on its surface, at random, following no pattern. The letters are waiting for someone to arrange them into the words and sentences and paragraphs and sections and chapters of a book that needs existing. Although rumours have it that many have been the ones who tried the task remains undone to this day.
6. the thorny way up
On the way up the ladder of status within the administration, language becomes rigid and technical. It gets intricate and specialized, a jargon seemingly devoted to confuse the outsider, the profane, a jargon which the newbie up that ladder is eager to pretend to master. Even more important than the language itself is the screenplay of such, its practical side - the speaker will show his control of the tool (language) and of the media (stage), while delivering a speech punctuated with well-trained pauses, little jokes, and voice modulations, providing emphasis where needed. A pure play, a professional plot.
7. Shakespeare's still in the alley with his pointed shoes and bells
A warm summer evening. A man sits on the grass and rests his back on the ragged surface of a pine tree trunk. He is lost in thought. The evening wears on slowly as he takes the occasional look at the sun setting behind a distant range of mountains. The scene pleases him. It mellows his mood. Cycles, boundaries, points of no return, deadlines. They all come in waves that travel along the ocean of time, that incomprehensible continuum. In the briefest final lapse the sun goes down behind the furthest mountain. He knows that there will come a time when the last rays of the sun will actually be the last rays of the sun.
[Note: The title is a reference to a verse in the Bob Dylan's song "Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again"]
8. zebra on the watch
I almost stepped onto that snail. I didn’t, and that changed our destinies, mine and the snail’s. It kept on living, which is not a bad thing after all. I took a train the next morning and before Leipzig it missed a red light. The snail lives its slow life in the ditches of the roads up Dornburg Schloss, time and again jeopardized by the soles of the passer-by. My home address has changed.