Before getting to that, this

It’s an illustration of how naïvety sneaks up on me, but when I was a teenager I was certain that religion was on it’s way out. It was an outmoded allegory of our place in the universe, being weighted down by it’s own hierarchical power structures which in a secular world no longer could be justified. Spirituality still had its place, but organised religion not so much.

As alluring as that prediction was, it really hasn’t proved itself; Under capitalist hegemony, religion offers an alternative worldview in lieu of socialism or other political visions, and there’s no end to fundamentalist religious nutters who use it as a political and moral lever to advance themselves. Which is utterly fucking depressing.

Another thing which I completely underestimated was the emergence of racist political parties – and how much support they’d receive – not least in Sweden where there was a strong resistance against those tendencies after they flared up during the 90’s. Boy was I every wrong about that being on the vane, seeing as just yesterday the not-officially-nazi-but-yes-nazi Svenskarnas Parti were having a public rally downtown in the run-up to elections. Their fifteen or so supporters were met by me and 2000+ others booing them, but it’s a sign of shitty times when the racist Swedish Democrat party has moved the goalposts of acceptable discourse so far that nazis feel encouraged enough to show their mugs in public like this.

For the past couple of years, I thought that the next issue on a civilised discussion agenda would be addressing women’s rights and gender inequality; I mean, it’s about bloody time that that boil on our collective butt be lanced and properly cleaned out, no? But here we are, once again having to spend time battling racists. It feels like such a waste of time; if all the racist assholes became MRM assholes at least we could move on to that issue and make progress, instead of revisiting this reactionary bullshit.

Class inequality, global justice and the unbridled internationalisation of capital is still an issue, we’re seemingly heading towards a less democratic future, and global warming and peak everything is going to fuck us over regardless our gender identification, but the past couple of years have seen a great momentum building in women’s rights organisations and in the related public discourse, and it would seem a waste to have all that potential energy peter out or be appropriated into another, older, stupider, struggle.

Then again, since I started this out by disqualifying my powers of divination, I shouldn’t make too bold statements about what is and isn’t important today. Racists have to be beat over the head with something reasonable, and religion is combatted by projects offering alternativ frameworks of support and meaning, and so I guess one just has to reconcile oneself to tackling those issues. Again. In 2014. Imaginary baby Jesus wept.

MateuszBefore getting to that, this

On having ambitions; or not, whatever

A bit over one year ago I got a part-time temp job as a technician at my old school, which is now renamed Akademin Valand. Initially intended as a two month stint, it was extended every so often, and in the end I stayed on up until last of June. That was one week ago, and boy I’ve not kept up the routine of getting up in the morning. So far, I’ve been treating this as a vacation, but starting tomorrow I ought to be back on something resembling a “track.” In addition to trying making sure I have money for rent, I’m setting my sights on getting a realistic todo-list to adhere to.

A renewed commitment to this blog will be on there, but also a priority of all the small projects which have once again ballooned into bloated monstrosities. The drone project will end up high on that list – I now have 300 pins sitting on my sill just waiting for some clever packaging and a webshop. By the way, the latest version of the pins looks awesome.

This weeks thing will have to be the four-wall shelving I and Sara finally put up. I write “finally” because I think we started sketching the idea not long after we moved in. I bought the wood six months ago after which I left it to season, allowing the tree sprites within to come to terms of the gestalt I wanted to assume. Once we actually set about doing it, it took less than two days. Bloody long buildup for a very humble project, and even though it turned out “OK” (as in “it won’t fall on our heads,” not “it’s totally not crooked”) I despair over how slow I am to do stuff these days. I need to read less and practice more, and very definitely not play Hearthstone more than twice a week, that stuff is ambition-killing crack.

image

I’ve been poking the newly arrived Ultimaker 2 with an STL stick for a bit, and I’m hoping to have it well enough calibrated to place it in a grade school environment without them having me there to supervise it all the time. (It’s the tail end of the Frispel project for which I got the grant beginning of last year) Since it’s vacation time and schools out, I’m using the time to get the Doodle 3D to work. It’s a wifi enabled server connected to the printer, which serves up a web interface in which to draw – doodle even – and then have the it print the results. The available tools are extremely basic, but in a school setting it might just be enough. Design software is still the Achilles heel of the 3D printing ecology, so it’s nice when someone tries to simplify the process.

This post is written in bed using a tablet, so if the formatting is a bit wonky I’m blaming the Android app. I left the iOS world for a Sony tablet a while back, the idea being that I’ve become too complacent in my computer use and ought to at least try to keep some mental agility. I’ve mostly used the tablet for reading ebooks, as a laptop is so much more versatile, but since I left my laptop behind along with my employment I’m going to see how much milage I can get out of this arrangement. It’s waterproof should I want to write poetry in the rain. Also, it has FM radio (retro!) which helps drowning out the drunken neighborly fights; That shit’s depressing.

MateuszOn having ambitions; or not, whatever

Creating brand report

Following up on last weeks foray into my customisation of a nice invoice template, where I bought a new domain just so that the email address would take up less space in the design, I set up a new Koken install on said domain. Behold, pozar.se is now an empty sheet onto which I will pour my professionalism and coherence. Which frees this blog up for even more random stuff, allowing me to really let loose.

My temporary employment at Akademin Valand is drawing to an end, and seeing as I’m joining the precariat once again I found it prudent to get a proper portfolio site up and running. Thus the pozar.se site. I’m rather temperamental when it comes to putting together samples of my work. Consequently, I’ve so far put up nothing.

My reluctance is partly based on my uncertainty of what it is I really do. For the past fifteen or so years during which I’ve slid from unpaid creative work alongside paying menial work, to paying creative work, I’ve had a devil of a time coming to terms with what constitutes “work” and “title” and “profession.” I’ve joked about creating a “professional dilettante” calling card many times, but haven’t done so although the title would fit. (Most people I tried it on don’t know what a “dilettante” is so I end up having to explain it and come of as a “professional dilettante jerk” instead.)

But this is reflected in how I understand myself. I do do commissioned photography, but it’s not all I do so I feel a bit disingenuous when I present myself with a profile which is exclusively focused on my photo and editing experience. This blog is probably a better reflection of what I do, especially when someone reads more than the first couple of posts, but what kind of image is that? When the practicality of “getting work” meets ones requirement to “be truthful” I lean towards the latter to the detriment of legibility and focus.

Possibly it’s best to be “true enough” or at least “not lie” when it comes to these things – if I select the works I believe speak to my strengths and showcase them as best I can, it’s not untruthful; it’s just very omissive. Could it be this is what is known as being “professional” and that I’m just late to the game? It would be in line with other blank spots I’m constantly discovering in my personality and behaviour.

Perhaps I ought just to ask some friends in the business to help me style a portfolio? Talk to some photo buyers who could actually help determine if I should pursue this or not. If I’m uninterested in something I do a half-assed job of it, but perhaps I’m just not good enough to do the projects I’d actually be interested in, which would give an indication of what I’d need to do to get there. Too often I assume that it’s a question of will to accomplish something, underestimating the value of skill and experience, and so it can be liberating to learn that what I’m doing is trite garbage; it gives you a direction and a goal, and hints at a roadmap you could follow to become better, more interesting, more serious and fun.

Ok it’s settled; I’ll get in touch with some image editors and ask their advice and judgement. It goes up on the list next to “learn soil analysis” and “design an origami box for the drone pin”, but before “learn the trombone like Antoine in Treme” and circle back to it once I’m officially unemployed…

MateuszCreating brand report

This week in review: many small things embusying one.

Originally, I set out to create one small project each week in order to get stuff going but I find that my mind is constantly wearing onto side streets and cul-de-sacs which take days just to navigate out of, let alone emerge with any solid gains. So too have the past two weeks passed by, and I have a bunch of notes and ongoing stuff happening, but have to once again remind myself that that wasn’t the point of the exercise. It was to publish one finished project once a week, not amassing five grand projects to publish “soon”.

So just to get something out there, I’ve uploaded the images from the “Virtual photography” series I did while still doing my BA in photography. The images are currently on the front page of monocultured.com and it’s a series of 8 pictures.

Printed copies have been on display in Sweden, Denmark and Canada, and I still get questions about them occasionally. One of my favourite comments from gallery visitors was “Hey, I know that place, I’ve been there”, in respons to seeing one of the photos. It seemed to prove a point at the time. Today, they look quite dated, so feel more like documentation of old computer games rather than the cutting edge of virtual photography, but there you go.

MateuszThis week in review: many small things embusying one.

The hipbone connects to the wristwatch.

This weeks thing is a practical example of how distraction works: I get home early in order to sit down with an animation I’ve been mulling over for a couple of weeks. Before starting up Photoshop and getting to it, I check my emails. Huh looks like I ought to send some work invoices out, so let’s just get that out of the way first.

— Oh, hang on, the formatting of the invoicing hasn’t been updated with my latest info, I better just go into the template and fix that. Well, I be danged, the template function of Billings is utter complete shit, so if I’m going to wade through the documentation just to do the update I might as well just redesign the whole thing — how hard could that be?

— Let’s see, where did I put that logo I made a while back, that could go on there… A little bit to the right… Maybe left? Now to select typeface. Oh, and the logo has a burned umbra colour, wouldn’t that look dandy on the invoice headers? Hang on, my email is too long compared to the rest of my address; I know, why not register a new domain! Ooh, nice, my surname is still available, I’ll just go ahead and register that and set it up. (Might as well ask my brother if he wants to be setup with a forwarding address as well)

— Ok, now we’re rolling, but how the hell does Billings handle calculating the numbers and fixing the tables and totals and such? “Randomly and like a idiot leper, shitting itself” you say? Where was that documentation? There’s none except a few flaky videos, only visible if you search the Marketplace support page source code? Well that’s rather off-putting! Ok, but perhaps I can just copy-paste from a working template? No? Ok, I feel a headache coming on, let me get something for that.

I’ve just spent six hours trying to create a new template for my invoice software — a software which I use very sparingly now that I’m employed – and failing miserably. I’m now looking to spend more on another software which isn’t such a hideous bloated corpse of a thing, just so that I’ll be able to have my own design. This is not effective use of time, and this Sunday has been wasted, and no project will be posted today. Goddammit!

MateuszThe hipbone connects to the wristwatch.

On poverty, grants, value of juice

In 2010 I received a grant from Konstnärsnämnden. It was more money than I’d imagined ever having access to, and one of the habits I developed was buying the Brämhults brand juice which epitomizes middle class luxury. Before finally tossing the empty bottles, I documented them as proof of an attribute I had at least temporarily acquired thanks to the grant. The images are now edited and up on the main homepage: Tack Konstnärsnämnden! The images will also be published as a soft-cover booklet shortly, hopefully as next weeks project.

Related, as far as “poverty as identity” can be related to juice, is this old post from John Scalzi: being poor.

And I know I let two weeks pass without publishing something new. Bad artist, bad! Won’t happen again, promise. Pinky swear.

MateuszOn poverty, grants, value of juice

a conundrum; trapped, or pinned even.

Photo on 4-13-14 at 7.20 PM

I got the pin samples the other day, and they look awesome. I’ve been asking around to see how I ought to price these, and the answers have ranged from 10 to 150 kronor. Since I’m considering numbering and packaging them, I’m inclined to move to the higher end of the scale, but it’s difficult. I’ve written about price and value previously but in the end it comes down to how you position yourself in relationship to others. Who are you, who does your supporter want to be; whose conspicuous consumption are you?

In addition to deciding on a price, I also would have to find a cause to support — my project is so small that I wouldn’t register with MSF or Red Cross, but perhaps there is a small charity dealing with civilian causulties of drone strikes or surveillance which could use the money? Suggestions gladly appreciated.

My choice of topic is very timely though, so I ought to get the thing off the ground as soon as possible, before H&M starts selling t-shirts with drone motifs, which can’t be that far off. I see ironic plush drones for sale Christmas 2014.

Ordering stuff from China is also a personal experiment for me. When the anti-globalisation movement was in full swing some fifteen years ago we were protesting the EPZ’s of China and Mexico, exactly for the reasons that they increase the race to the bottom of global capitalism; externalising environmental and human costs with little or no consequence.

Given that unions aren’t allowed in China and the country is an oligarchical dictatorship, it’s difficult on the face of it to defend using it for production. Not that I’m going defend it — I do messed up stuff all of the time — but perhaps I could use this as an opportunity to learn more about the issues. There are labour, human rights and environmental organisation active in China, and by dealing with a manufacturer directly I at least have a name, an owner and an address, as opposed to if I’d ordered the stuff through a middle-man.

Mateusza conundrum; trapped, or pinned even.

A family, a network of relations.

This weeks thing is a proper retouch and publication of the Family photo series I did in 2004-2005. It was a bunch of portraits of more or less everyone in my extended family (except my maternal grandmother who didn’t want to be remembered so frail) and although I haven’t exhibited them anywhere I’ve had analogue copies made and distributed.

As the project is almost ten years old (which gives me temporal vertigo) I’m considering revisiting it; perhaps it’s time again to pack a camera and shoot the family. Not sure if it would feel as relevant now, but since I’m looking at the project with ten years hindsight and am glad I pursued it, I might appreciate a followup in ten years time as well.

I’m quite certain that I won’t do the project using film though; Patience with the analogue isn’t part of my character, and removing dust from the scanned negatives is a time honoured craft I’d gladly do without. Images are here.

MateuszA family, a network of relations.

I’d love to have you for dinner.

To counteract our social stagnation we’re trying to throw dinners. True, we haven’t had one for six months, but still, we try to attempt, to perhaps do something at some point. Regardless, one of the features of these dinners is me pulling out the camera and documenting all guests. It’s mandatory and unless people co-operate I don’t tell them where the antidote is.

This weeks project is about finishing the retouch and publishing one set of dinner pictures. “the dinner set #1” (2013) is me having fun in photoshop, and switching the faces around of all dinner guests — I’ve moved nose, eyes and mouth from one face to another, resulting in some more or less plausible visages. Needless to say, I laughed my ass of doing this, although right now I can’t say why — these people all look so serious. You can find the image gallery at monocultured.com under “photography” or by clicking here.

AL

sara_gitarr

Last weeks project was all the work migrating the blog into a new theme. WordPress themes are supposed to be mostly a skin on top of your content, but I splurged on a commercial theme with a lot of customisation, and it took a long time to make things look like it does now.

It’s been a while since this place got a facelift, and I don’t have the time nor inclination to once again dust of what mongrel knowledge I have of php/css/ and the WordPress loop just in order to hack something passable together. I figured that I could use that “flexible” layout people keep talking about. (At the moment the menus don’t work when viewed on a narrow screen, but I’ll get to that Or rather, now that I’ve paid for a theme I have someone to ask why it doesn’t work…)

Also, I received an email about the “don’t drone my friend” pins, and a box with samples is on it’s way over to me from China. I can’t get over how insane that is, but it’s also rather neat, in a “global fun-park, hell-in-a-handbasket” kinda way.

MateuszI’d love to have you for dinner.

Smokers de-light

Silly puns aside, in this weeks “finally I got around to getting that done!” category, we find some images I took last year but haven’t put up anywhere. It’s a bunch of pictures of people smoking e-cigarettes, which make for some demonic-looking faces. The first one I did was a self-portrait, and the rest came about when visiting mom for Christmas. I would have had more pictures if it hadn’t been for the break-in when I lost my laptop, but there you go.

I also took some time to learn the Koken CMS which I installed last summer, and it’s a brilliant piece of software. It takes a while to learn the quirks and come up with a logical yet resilient navigation system, but seeing as my site never had that much traffic to begin with I don’t think I’ll traumatise too many people by doing live experimenting.

Curating a site is even harden than writing an artist statement. Breaking with convention, I’ve not written about myself in third person as is the custom, and I’m curious to see how I come across when I mix personal art projects with commissioned works and folio stuff. It might end up just being a mediocre mush instead of a streamlined persona, but I’m hoping that by adding most of my production to the site I’ll come to some realisation about what in the world it is that I’m doing with my time. After all, if I’m supposed to be a professional dilettante, this ought to be apparent in my production, and the thread weaving my carpet of doing might go all over the place but at least ought not break.

You can find the site at www.monocultured.com, and it’s supposed to play well with iOS as well as Android tablets. Let me know of any kinks. There are only two albums up at the moment, and the one with this weeks pictures are in the Alight album.

MateuszSmokers de-light