Past Is Present

Boards Of Canada was on when I was cropping this image so fans will know how the title drifted into my head today. I remember seeing this mossy fence on the edge of a pathway at a mountainside temple near Kyoto. The air was cool and damp and the temple was quiet after we arrived late in the day as most everyone else was on their way out. Somewhere in the distance a drum was echoing out through the grounds. I remember the small town outside the temple as well and how slow it felt as we waited on a train to arrive. Thinking about it makes the stressful day I am taking a break from by sharing a new photo feel a little more calm. How to hold onto this feeling is the real trick.

This is one of those images that was tricky to crop for a vertical smartphone because there was not quite enough empty space to fit the center column in there but I did my best. The full desktop size is lovely though. Hopefully it will bring you a little peacefulness as well should your day contain more stress than relaxation. Downloads below, enjoy!

Loss

I have been seeking out and listening to ambient music a lot this year, it’s kept me grounded. In this space the label 12k has been releasing ambient gold all year. In fact, this is the second “now spinning” post in a row featuring one of their albums. They recently released a new album by Marcus Fischer, one of the modern kings of dreamy, introspective ambient music and I have been coming back to it time and time again lately.

What I admire about ambient music is that it is such a broad genera sonically, it has no rules, no collection of senseless subgenera classifications (outside of a couple maybe), and no pressure to be the hot new sound. It can be electronic, it can be acoustic, it has no boundaries and I love that.

My personal favorite ambient music explores sound as a means to amplify emotion; a protective shell of sorts that gives life unexpected weight and a sense of warmth. Music that feels honest and from the heart. Marcus Fischer’s latest solo release simply titled “Loss” encompass all of my favorite things about ambient music perfectly.

The music here is achingly beautiful and organic. It manages to merge seamlessly into my life at home while it spins on the record player, or in the background of my life while out at work through my headphones. This album centers my thoughts and gives a backdrop to contemplation. It’s perfect through and through.

The notes and melodies feel like distant memories played through an old radio in environments lost in time. The recording style and mix give the music a dream like quality making the collection feel like an artifact containing audio recordings of overlooked moments; shadows cast through leaves, light reflecting off of water, the moon lingering low on the horizon. Life often feels like chaos to me and recordings like this give it focus and provides me with a chance to seek out meaning and beauty in the cracks between the obvious.

Weighty, possibly pretentious description aside, this music is beautiful and makes the environment it is played in feel that much more inviting and whole, something we all could use a little more of today so if that sounds like something you could use I highly suggest picking up a vinyl copy or seeking it out on your digital service of choice.

Outlook

One afternoon YoungDoo’s sister and her family took us on a drive outside of Seoul for some time away from the city. One of the spots we visited was a cool little art gallery/cafe/shop/theater complex next to a huge lake, sorry I don’t remember the name. Before we left I knew I wanted to sneak over and take a few photos of the lake and mountains in the distance but upon walking up to the edge of an outlook the overgrowth of plantlike at the edge of the trail caught my eye.

This one wispy vine took off above everything else and I knew I had found a take on this landscape other than the landscape itself. I often find myself in this same position, gazing at the grass instead of the view. There is so much hidden in the foreground of our lives that is easy to miss or ignore. That is to say, don’t forget to check out the forest through the trees while you are out exploring.

Links to a wallpaper cut can be found below, HD version is in the usual members downloads spot. Enjoy!

Cafe Yaang

After visiting Korea again I realized it was the 6th time I have had the opportunity to spend time there. Unlike previous trips this time around felt like a “Greatest Hits” sort of visit where I did not have as much time to wander around lost so I found myself gravitating to my favorite old spots, hoping they were still there because so many shops and cafes have short life spans in the crowded marketplace.

Among shops I was surprised managed to hang on was this gem of a coffee shop called Cafe Yaang. Tucked away in a small 4-5 block area full of small independent shops, restaurants, bars and cafes. It was a pleasant surprise to see it held on while many others in the area vanished since my last visit.

Cafe Yaang is my favorite kind of little Cafe, full of modest charm and understated ambience making it a cozy place to relax in for a while. I did my best to capture the simple charm and calmness of the space with these couple of photos and thought they would make for equally cozy wallpapers. Links below, more to come but for now, enjoy!

Download:

Summer

Summer is full of traditions passed down through generations of youth culture. When I think of this season what comes to mind as an adult is the heat and long days working outdoors but I remember back when the summer meant time in the woods, cold rivers and streams, camping, road trips, time to explore and enjoy the wistful landscape of time free from obligation.

In that spirit, YoungDoo and I found ourselves with a day off and decided to take advantage by taking Milla out swimming in a lake for the first time and, as I mentioned a post or two ago, I am doing all I can to keep an eye out for those delicate moments hiding in plain sight, ready to capture as a photograph. The image here are from just such a moment, the afternoon light sneaking into the lower level of a boathouse where you pay your dues to get into the lake area. It smelled of moisture, moss, and showers. A familiar cool, damp smell that’s hard to forget. A scene that captured a little forgotten corner of my youth that I thought some of you may appreciate as well. Enjoy!

Download:

La Niña Junco

Ambient music has continued to be a stabilizing force within my day to day life. It breathes calm into moments of chaos and helps moments of joy feel transcendent. Among my favorite discoveries lately is the album La Niña Junco by Federico Durand released on the 12k Label.

The album has a purity to its concept that I greatly admire and appreciate. The whole of the release was created using one single synthesizer, and to great effect. It causes each song to pool into a collective whole as if each new exploration of the instrument is a single block building a home, a cozy, light filled home from open windows and warm summer breeze. While that may sound over the top, its my best attempt at describing how its left me feeling at times.

Hidden among the album is a song which has quickly become a quintessential piece of ambient music within my all time favorites called Navidad en el bosque. When I first heard it I must have left it on repeat for an hour, and continue to come back to it time and time again. It is both somber and hopeful, contemplative and full of subtle life with its waves of light hearted sound. Its the kind of music that makes the world around me feel empty without it playing within it.

While most 12k releases come out in physical form via CD, this one has a well suited vinyl edition that sounds beautiful. If you are curious about the toy bird in the photo above. It came in a pack of Japanese caramels and has lived around my turntable for a long while. When I started to share the process of playing vinyl records with my one year old daughter I placed the toy on the label so she could see that the disc was spinning around and around. Now, at 16 months old she loves to make attempts at helping me play records and because I included the bird as part of that initial learning experience, now she won’t let me play a record without the little wooden bird spinning round and round there on the record along with the music because, of course, thats just part of what makes it work. She sure loves music, which really brings me joy.

At any rate, if you are into ambient, contemplative music then be sure to have a listen to this fantastic release on 12k (which just happens to currently have a summer sale going on through the end of the month so its a perfect time to pick up a copy if you end up enjoying it as much as I have.)

As Green

I can’t remember the last time I crammed my camera into an odd place to capture a photograph and yesterday on a short trip to the mountains I stumbled into a perfect opportunity to do just that. We took Milla to see a small waterfall so she could mess about in the cool mountain water and I noticed this little overhang hiding a tiny cave of plant life and drippy beauty. Small water flow is a fast moving mess of splashing water but there was just enough space to shove a 5D back there and capture some secret cave goodness. It just took a little bit of manual focusing and a wet head to get close to lining up the shot how I was imagining. I think I ended up taking around 20 or so shots and found three that I thought were worth sharing with you guys.

I must say, it felt good to play around with a somewhat abstract subject again for the first time in a long time, if only for a few minutes. Some days I wonder what more I can offer the world with another photograph of light shining through a window but moments like these where I discover some unconsidered little corner of the world I quickly remember how much there is still to discover and share. Infinity proper.

I have a couple more to share from our little trip but I will save those for next time. Until then, enjoy!

Step One

Time is an idea I can’t stop considering lately. It’s a delicate pattern carved in stone and as heavy and permanent as it feels to lift I just can’t seem to shake the feeling that I have grown weaker to it’s weight. Ive come to realize that there is no such thing as free time, or a day off anymore. “My” time is no longer mine. My life no longer feels quite as unique and philosophical, only steadfast in its attempt to teach me a lesson, that somehow my narrow and flighty addiction to capturing light and living in the moment is but the smallest nearly forgotten footnote in the broader perspective that life seems to want me to consider now.

All this is to say that fatherhood has certainly cast a new light onto my back, more constant than the sun and infinitely brighter. I am learning that time is attention, time is focus, time is fully understanding the importance of every available second spent alive. More valuable and precious than I ever thought possible.

This has made it harder to appreciate light, art, music, emotion. A deeper connection with the world around me has been frayed and heavily damaged as of late. In regards to my deeper understanding of life through artistic expression, many things seemed to work against me over the course of this past year. One camera died, another stolen, work and life at home so heavy that a practical life was the only side of reality I could see. Trails of light in the dust, intricate shadows, lonely corners of the world needing my attention, they all hid out of sight for long periods at a time but I refused to turn a blind eye to this hole that opened up in my creative self. The blackness was far too alarming and dense, I realized that if I didn’t start seeking out light again I may loose it for good.

So I turned to music first; sound, melody, rhythm, it gives me pace, subtle yet steady, I let it fill the spaces between work and home. Through creating music and pushing time around to get out behind a couple of turntables and help people dance with that therapeutic thump, clap, thump, clap, music became my creative pulse this past year when light hid so far away.

Now, recently I was blessed with the opportunity to have a new camera in my life. YoungDoo and I bought a used 5D Mk III from a photographer friend locally and while we are sharing it between her freelance photography work and my hope to use it as a tool to awaken artistically again behind a lens, it has certainly, without a doubt, been a blessing for both of us to have around.

It may not be the latest, smallest, most clever camera available today but it sure has sparked my imagination again and made me want to continue to seek out lonely or beautiful moments hidden around me and I can feel it start to come back. These inspiring, quiet milliseconds are doing their damnedest to get my attention and remind me that even among a life that has been feeling particularly heavy and opaque, that light, even when faint, can inspire hope and remind me that time can in fact still slow down enough to let me appreciate it and at times try and capture it and share these nearly overlooked moments with others.

And in that spirit, I’m sharing a new desktop and a toast to to the light, may it shine just a little bit brighter when I have a camera by my side.

One Inch

“…and when they carry me, they carry me one inch above ground.”

This was a lyric used as one of the themes for a project called Our Window which was something YoungDoo and I did together back around 2010 or so. I was feeling a bit nostalgic this morning and found myself looking through these photos we took together while apart. For those of you who don’t know, part of how we got to know each other while living on opposite sides of the world was through a diptych project where we used themes to inspire us to take photos then combined them and presented them together as a means to see how each other would interpret each theme. It was a fulfilling project that we both miss some days.

The photo above was taken as part of it, and has been sitting in my “may make a good desktop one day” folder for a long time now. I remember having time to get creative with photos back then. I came up with this odd idea of floating a pinecone above the ground to match our chosen theme and considered using fishing line but realized the songs protagonist was being carried by birds, not floating so I used a red thread instead, a detail I ended up really liking.

The song is a sweet one by a musician that releases music under the name Ben and Bruno and writing this today reminded me that its been a while since checking out what he’s been up to lately. The album the song was from is called 100 Grim Reapers and its actually available as a free download now on his bandcamp page here. I was lucky enough to pick up a vinyl copy back when it was released, its an old favorite for sure.

As always, links for desktops below, HD version will be up in the members space. Enjoy!

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