Thursday, December 29, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Sometimes I wonder what drives man to do horrible things to others in the most despicable manners one can imagine. Is it pure hatred? Blind zealotry? Or maybe just for the kicks? There have always been conflicts throughout the world. Wars are no longer waged between nation against nation, but people against people. Religion wars, genocide, ethnic cleansing and ancient feuds are more common these days than you can imagine. Angry mobs with machete and pointy sticks hacking a helpless man to death, fathers executed right in front of their kids and the list goes on. These are only a few. War journalism is as dangerous as being in the front lines of war. Only a few who are brave enough to risk their life just to capture the madness and share it with the world.
Being in the midst of the chaos, armed with determination, bravery, a camera, and perhaps luck, is not an easy way to make a living. James Natchwey, is a living legend. The greatest war photographer ever, claimed by many. The documentary film war photographer pretty much describes the journey of this great photographer trough some of the most hostile countries with his colleagues and documents the dark side of the human civilizations. The 90 minutes documentary consists of footages, which some I admit are very disturbing, still images, and interviews. It came out in 2001, and ten years later, I discovered this gem through the movie “The bang bang club” which is a re-enactment movie about a group of young war photographers in Africa.
The most interesting point of this documentary is the interview footage, especially from James’ closest colleagues and friends’ point of view. According to Christiane Breustedt, James’ ex lover and the editor in chief of GEO SAISON magazine, the man is a tough bloke and knows no boundaries in his career. There are no limits. Another colleague, the chief international correspondent of CNN, Christiane Amanpour, stated that James is mystery man. She never could understand what makes him tick to the extent that he takes and a loner.
Some of the footages are real life experiences of James and his team facing life threatening situations. The most intense scene for me probably the clash between Palestine civilians and the Israeli armed forces. The brave legend was sitting right in the middle of the chaos, capturing the hellish battle with his camera. There’s one segment of the documentary, which covers the poverty in Jakarta. He focused on one particular family, living nearby a railroad, with cardboards boxes as mattresses. The head of the family is a crippled father with only one arm and one leg, married to a woman with four children.
I was watching this segment with watery eyes. It was the most depressing video footage I ever watched. It changed me. I’ve been complaining my whole life about the imperfections and how it’s not going as I expected. But after watching this, the strength of this crippled man who manages to hold his family together, having some quality time with his family, being able to laugh and play and how they move on despite the lack of proper home and education for their children. Uplifting example of the adversity the human soul can face while still maintaining hope.
This amazing documentary movie shouldn’t be missed. It pretty much changed my life and how I look at human society and civilization. There’s so much to change.
WARNING: some of the footage and still images are very disturbing. Watch them at your own risk.
Friday, November 18, 2011
I still remember the overwhelming joy and excitement when I got my first SLR camera a few years back. It was a Yashica, but I couldn’t recall whether it was from the FX series or the FR. All I could remember is that it had a layer of purple rubber over its body. Unfortunately, it was fairly short-lived. I was in my second semester in a local university, struggling for my art and design diploma and not many who owns an analogue camera. I was one of the few. As a concerned friend, I tend to finish all my assignments early, so that my close friends could borrow my camera. Of course I didn’t want people to think me as a stingy bastard. My big mistake was letting my camera being passed around among friends without my knowledge. I even joked once that my camera was a whore. Finally, it vanished without a trace. And the worst part of it was everyone didn’t have any clue who’s the last person using it, the usual scenario. Strange as it was, I wasn’t that mad. I kind of, just let it go.
Then after a few years, I was on board with the analogue craziness, which seems to take on the local photography culture by storm. It’s the rebirth of analogue photography they said. Out of nowhere, I started to enjoy and appreciate the analogue photography, more than ever. That is when regret and frustration kicked in, to think of my neglecting behavior over my old analogue camera. The market was aware of the uprising, thus, to find an analogue camera with a reasonable price was almost impossible, even the used ones at the flea market. Then after a quite number of persuasions and sweet talks from my friends, I bought a Lomo camera, which was cheaper. So I was on board with Lomo hype. It was a HOLGA 135BC, the “BC” stands for black corners, which the corners of the image will be darkened creating vignettes.
It was fairly easy to use, despite the lens was not aligned with the viewfinder, which I had difficulty to adapt. The first few rolls of films were a bunch of shot that were poorly composed. Then one day, God answered my prayers, I knew He did. I was just accompanying my friend to the second hand store, with no intention to purchase anything, just looking. Both of us were just looking. It was a new store. Destiny put me there; it was the historic day of my life. My eyes caught something in the camera section. On top of the shelves, a Nikon FM10 analogue camera sat there by itself, gazing at me, begging to be picked up. There was another surprise, the price tag showed “RM128” (USD40), way too cheap. Not to mention the favorite model for most of the analogue enthusiasts.
The shop assistant told me it was broken. I almost screamed in frustration. But my heart didn’t give up. I picked it off the shelf. She panicked when popped open the back of the camera to inspect the film chamber. Then she was puzzled and asked me, “owh, is that how you open it?” At that moment I knew she and her colleagues had no knowledge whatsoever about analogue cameras. I tested every shutter speed, aperture, played around the film rewind knob and crank, even took off the lens and replaced it back. I looked at her and said “Yup. She’s broken. But I’ll buy it anyway. I like to collect antiques.” I walked out of the store smiling like a kid walking out of a toy store. There was a quite outcry from my friends who were already visited the store but walked away as soon as the shop assistant told them it was broken. Lucky for me they didn’t check the camera. Like I said, destiny wanted me to find that camera.
From that point, my passion for analogue photography grew stronger as ever. I started to visit the local flea markets if I ever had the chance. After that, I bought two more analogue cameras. They were compact 35mm film cameras. One is manual and the other motorized. Looking forward to get more cameras, and experiment with more films.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
The 1982 john Carpenter’s “The thing’s” prequel pretty much explains to us the origin of the “Assimilator alien”. For those who a stranger to the 1982’s version, the storyline is basically about stranded scientists battling for their lives against an unknown life form which “absorbs” their prey and later imitates them. The “assimilated” prey later infiltrates the camp causing a terrible case of paranoia within the group. Even thought John Carpenter’s version was a remake from the 1951’s “The Thing from another world”, but his version was more accurately adapted from the book “Who goes there?” by John W. Campbell Jr. It became an instant classic. Sub-zero temperature, paranoia and claustrophobia, the three ingredients really mixed well for this cult classic.
As for the 2011 version, it tells us about the first discovery of the dreaded alien, trapped in the ice. Just like any other alien related sci-fi flicks, curiosity always kills the scientists. As a die-hard fan of this genre, I tried to look past the fact that the core storyline pretty much the same as the 1982’s version. To my surprise, this prequel seems to preserve its goriness and grotesque scenes of violence death and alien monsters. The only difference is it’s done with 3D animation, rather than prosthetics make-up and animatronics.
Nevertheless, I would like to suggest that you watch the 1982’s “The thing” first before you go on and see this one. Why? It’s simply because of its ending. SPOILER ALERT: I tried hard not to snap back at a couple who walked besides me after the movie. The girl asked her boyfriend “Kenapa diorang kejar anjing tu lepas tu tiba-tiba habis” (Why did they chase the dog then the movie ends?) which was replied by her boyfriend “Ending tergantung” (The ending is left unanswered) For those who had watched the john Carpenter’s version, you know what I’m talking about.
All in all, I rate this piece 3.5/5. Anyone who enjoys sci-fi slash horror flick, you should check this one out.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Have you ever caught yourself in situations where your brain is overwhelmed with ideas but too lazy to jot them down? Or too busy visualizing the outcomes of these ideas that you’re actually procrastinating without realizing it? Hours after hours, days after days your mind keeps on lingering around the same ideas, thinking how great and brilliant they are if you would succeed on executing them but still, it’s all just in your mind.
At the same time, you developed yourself with new obsessions; new areas that you want to explore, try different genres in writing, pick up new hobbies and the urge to get involved in every fields of art available, as many as possible.
Despite the development of various enthusiasms, you sometimes got yourself trapped into the most dangerous situation any creative person could get into, a writers’ block, a situation where your mind becomes numb and devoid of almost everything. No matter how hard you try to squeeze that big brain of yours, struggling hard to get that avant-garde ideas you’re hoping for, it all seems pointless.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Ceaser, a young chimp born from a tested specimen, started to question his origins and the fate of his species. It took only just a few days for him to start organizing and launched a revolution that’ll change the history of both human and apes.
No doubt that this masterpiece has earned its place in my list of top sci-fi favorites. It’s not just the almost perfect CGI, but also the pace of the story and its narration that intrigued me the most. The suffering, depression and oppression of the human against the apes were depicted with almost no flaw at all. The audience is connected to Ceaser emotionally, and could almost felt his happiness, suffering and finally anger. His exploding rage at the end of his tolerance with the human world marked the beginning of a new age, the age of apes.
For all those sci-fi fans out there, especially the hardcore followers of “planet of the apes” universe don’t miss this one. I walked out of the cinema hall with mixed emotions, shock and unnerving feeling, and of course cringed for more. I was rooting for the apes during the whole movie, the second movie which I rooted against the human after “District 9”.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
The “Signs, Symbols and Icons” exhibition was launched last Saturday (23rd July 2011) to an adequate crowd, which was held at the Galeri Chandan, Bukit Damansara. I was one of the eager patrons who attended the opening reception. The exhibition highlights three young promising artists, Anisa Abdullah, Najib Ahmad Bamadhaj and Hirzaq Harris. Each individual successfully came up with their own rendition and insights regarding the concept of signs, symbols and icons, each with their own methods and techniques.
Marilyn Monroe was an icon during her glorious yesteryears, and that was what Anisa Abdullah is trying to imply into her works, famous and perhaps classic icons. Alongside the famous sex symbol, Anisa also focuses her insights on classic western cars that had been such crazed subjects for most automobiles enthusiastic all around the world. Not to forget, her interpretation on our local famous streets and their stories such as the “Jalan Lebuh Ampang”. The young artist experimented with collage to create forms using used materials, mainly magazines.
On the other hand, Najib Ahmad Bamadhaj’s “Polo” sends a bold yet very subtle message about the differences of classes in a society. As we know, Polo is a sport for the wealthy, and it has become a symbol representing the upper class. The artist tries to demolish this established believe by putting the image of the Polo player on an image of a wall. According to him, a wall is the favored medium for street art, like graffiti, and it represents the lower class. By combining these two, he claimed that he wants to reinforce the belief that everyone and classes should be equal and given the rights to certain privileges.
Most of Hirzaq Harris’ works has been influenced by the classic oriental style, as well as the classic Japanese style painting during the feudal era. There are Chinese symbols and characters written in some of his works, that according to him, those symbols tell the ancient stories and fables of the Chinese folklore. His main focus is the detail drawing of technical diagrams like from an interior of machines, and he applies them inside the images of classic icons and symbols that represent the ancient Japanese and Chinese cultures. These are the dragon, kabuki, samurai and a Buddha. He uses technical pens, acrylics and bitumen on canvas.
The exhibition ends on 29th July 2011. Another exhibition is on its way this august which entitles “Kalimah” and obviously focuses on Islamic art, which is appropriate with the oncoming Ramadhan. “Kalimah” starts on 10th of August and ends on 26th August 2011.
Video on the opening reception will be uploaded soon.
Najib Ahmad Bamdhaj - Polo
Mixed media on canvas
Anisa abdullah - Marilyn Monroe
paper collage on canvas
Hirzaq Harris - Beyond Kabuki
Mixed Media on canvas
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
Once I’m at the entrance, I was greeted with smiles and warm hospitalities from the ticket crew, early indication that I will mostly enjoy the rest of the day there. Further into the area, I was met with a row of stalls and booths ranging from art crafts, fashion, vintage clothing, badges, handbooks, soaps, eco knights and many more. I stopped at every booth, snapped a few pictures and asked for their business cards. There was one thing in particular that really caught my fullest attention, a full size body armor at the eco knight’s booth. I’m a big fan of the medieval history. Then I made my way to the field which was already packed with eager patrons, as eager as I was.
Just as I entered the area, my foot stepped on something soft and made a squishing sound. I looked down and to my disliking; the field was wet and muddy. It was raining earlier that morning. It’ll have to take more than wet grass and mud to stop me from enjoying myself, so I kept on going until I reached the Junkyard stage. There were two Indian dudes, up on the stage, hip-hop battling in Tamil. A little bit awkward for me because it’s my first time watching it in Tamil but nonetheless, it’s entertaining and the crowd loved it. I stayed a while for another performance by SSK, a local hip-hop act, performing their hit, “Aku benci”. Then I moved on to the next area. There was another stage, bigger than the Junkyard and a larger crowd too. It was TMnet’s stage and the band that was performing stopped me in my track. They sounded just like Explosion in The Sky, which is also one of my favorite bands. Written big in the screen above them, The Metaphor, that was the name of the band. I stayed for another good 20 minutes enjoying the energy and the beautiful tunes presented up on the stage.
The day was getting late and hot at the same time; I stopped at a drink stall and bought a refreshing “Sirap Bandung” for one Ringgit. As I was enjoying myself, sipping the cold milky beverage, my ears caught something. A very familiar voice speaking over the speakers nearby, I knew that voice from somewhere but couldn’t really figure it out. I walked towards the commotion, and to my delight, there he was, Patrick Yeoh, with the rest of the Actorlympics crew, Douglas Lim, Nell Ng, Rashid Salleh and Kuah Jenhan. Despite the wet and muddy ground, I sat down and start laughing, like everybody else. Did I mention that I never check out the schedule? It’s because I like surprises. Patrick Yeoh and his crew is one of the pleasant surprises that I got that day. We were entertained with various games that the actors had to improvise their skills with. My favorite was the “freeze” game where it starts with two actors and they have to act a scene given by the audience. During their act, another player can cut in by saying “freeze!” and the actors that are acting have to freeze. The new player comes in and taps on the back of any actors he or she wants to replace and they can act a new scene.
The game started with Rashid Salleh and Nell Ng, where they had to act a scene in the shower together. It was awkward for them as well for the audience. At first Rashid moaned and sighed as Nell was scrubbing his body, then suddenly she shouted “Aboy!!” and he replied “sorry mommy, too much internet”. The whole crowd with the rest of the Actorlympics laughed as hard as we could. The mood of the act changed drastically. A very good improvising. Sadly, the show didn’t last as long as I hoped for. As they were chilling out backstage, I saw an opportunity. With a silly grin I asked ‘uncle’ Patrick if I can take a photo with them, a perfect Saturday indeed.
As an analogue photography enthusiastic, I spent quite some time at both klickr and Million Happy Faces. Then I had lunch which was a packet of char kue tiao and cendol. I walked around for hours, snapped a few photos, filled my tummy with delicious desserts and interact with friendly people until my legs finally gave up and I made my way home around 8PM. Wish I could stay longer but I was too exhausted. I’m looking forward for next year’s Urbanscapes. It was the best 40 Ringgit I ever spent on.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Signs, symbols and Icons are visual shorthand for communicating universal concepts with much more richness than words alone. Also culturally, they are considered as values, beliefs and traits that portray certain individuals and societies. They form characters that determine social structure.
There are many descriptions and explanations regarding on signs. Culturally, it can be described as an omen that gives indications of things that will occur at certain place and time in the future, a premonition. Certain cultures around the globe still hold this belief even in this modern era. These omens can be perceived as persons, events, animals, and objects whether it’s man made or natural. For example, in some cultures, the presence of black cats and crows are indication of something bad, or bad luck will occur. Either to individuals or a group of people, it is known as bad omen. Even in our own culture, there are beliefs with the presence of these signs that can lead to certain events in the future. A butterfly inside a house is an omen that someone will visit the homeowner. In terms of communications, forms of signs like hand gestures, images, body movements, scents and sounds can be used to established an understanding between individuals or parties. These sign languages can be directly to the point or delivered with hidden messages that can only be understood by the receivers only. Visually, signs can be used to identify, give instructions and give information to societies. In the field of graphic designs, the effectiveness of signs is very crucial and important to the society. Signage and road signs are good examples of visual signs.
On the other hand, symbols are just like signs, they stand for something but with more layers and richer in meanings. In Greek the word symbol means “image”. They may represent individuals, societies, parties, events, idealisms, moral values or religions. The name of each person on this planet is a symbol representing the individuals themselves. Symbols can appear in many forms, objects, persons, names, places, dates, events, and visual signs. For examples, American actress and singer, Marilyn Monroe was considered as sex symbol during her glorious years. It was her appearance, social life and the people around her that gave the impression of her being a sex symbol. In fact, many of public figures from different eras were considered as symbols to lot of idealism, moral values and certain cultures. Different symbols have different meanings in different cultures. For examples, Ernesto Che’ Guevara was the symbol of hope, resistance, freedom to some Cubans but for the rest of the world, he’s the symbol of terrorism. Visual symbols, like the swastika, it is a religious symbol for the Buddhists, a symbol of eternity but to the fanatics of Nazi idealism, it’s the unconquerable and power. Today, it represents racism and hate. Symbols are perceived differently for different individuals and societies.
Meanwhile, Icons represent something that has sacred significant and values, important, loved, worshipped and followed by certain individuals, cultures, societies, place or a period in history. Most icons that are being followed are mostly important figures and persons. For example, Andy Warhol the icon of pop art that took the 60s era by storm with his avant-garde contemporary art, from paintings to art movies. Even his famous Marilyn Monroe’s print has become an icon for the movement. Both Leonardo Da Vinci and his famous painting Monalisa are both icons of the Renaissance art movement, even until today. It’s hard to exclude these two when mentioning about the movement. Icons give impact. That is how to determine the worthiness of the subjects if ever to be considered as icons, especially in art movements. Not only in art, even other fields, there will always be icons that represent the subjects and followed or loved by individuals and societies, and certainly not just persons, it may be objects or works.
These three act as important elements in human communication and can be described as values and sometimes religious or cultural traits that determine certain individuals, parties and societies. Their existence in art has helped its movement through the ages and gives birth to a lot styles and philosophies.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
And tell me all your secret spells
Tell me how you learn
To tell by his voice that he fell
I know a ghost will walk through the wall
Yet I am just a man still learning how to fall
Try to re-imagine me
And I’ll re-invent myself
Still I remember scenes
Of when you looked at someone else
I know a ghost can walk through the wall
Yet I am just a man still learning how to fall
If you start doubting me
Then I start to doubt myself
And never look through me
Cause I’ll keep close to myself
I know a ghost can walk through the wall
Yet I am just a man still learning how to fall
I am what I am
And what I am is who I am
I know what I know
And all I know is that I fell
If only I could walk through the wall
Then maybe I would tell you who I was
Yet I am just a man still learning how to fall
Yet I am just a man still learning how to fall
Sunday, July 3, 2011
“A human body starts to decompose four minutes after death. The body, once the encapsulation of life, now undergoes its final metamorphoses. It begins to digest itself. Cells dissolve from the inside out. Tissue turns to liquid, then to gas. No longer animate, the body becomes an immoveable feast for other organisms. Bacteria first, then insects. Flies. Eggs are lain, then hatch. The larvae feed on the nutrient rich broth, and then migrate. They leave the body in orderly fashion, following each other in a neat procession that always heads south. South east or south west sometimes, but never north. No one knows why.”
This is the first paragraph from the first chapter of the book, “Chemistry of Death” written by a British author Simon Beckett. It is probably one of the best crime thriller novels ever written, according to my opinion of course. I’ve read it like 5 times already and looking forward to turn its pages again. It’s that addictive. I bought it like 6 years ago, in a bookstore in Mahkota Parade, Malacca. I can’t remember either it was Popular or MPH. The first thing that caught my attention was the tagline; AFTER 30 SECONDS YOUR SKIN BEGINS TO CRAWL. AFTER ONE MINUTE YOUR HEART IS IN YOUR MOUTH. Of course I wanted my skin to crawl when I read a thriller, and the reviews on the back cover were intriguing enough. Without thinking twice I bought it for RM30 something, I can’t really recall.
Once I read the first paragraph, I knew I’ve found my new favorite bedtime book. I couldn’t put it down and couldn’t stop turning the pages, yearning for more. The characters were convincing enough with their strong background stories and personalities. As a hardcore fan for this sub-genre, I found the plots were written in such gloomy yet unnerving narration, my kind of reading materials. Also, it reminded me of the classic X-Files series, with all the bizarre murders, psychopath, and morbid information of human decomposing process, grotesque details of mutilations and a lot of post mortem scenes.
Here’s the synopsis, it’s a story about a former forensic expert DAVID HUNTER who moved from London to a small remote Norfolk Village after a tragedy that nearly destroyed him. He wanted to run from the ghosts of his past and seek new beginning in this rural heaven. Life was perfect for him, for a while. Serving as the town’s only doctor, almost every townsfolk is no stranger to him. All of that changed after they found remains of SALLY PALMER, a writer who, like David himself, seeks refuge in this remote getaway to start writing her new book. The poor woman was mutilated beyond recognition; they could only identify her by the dental records. Local police was baffled by this sinister tragedy. That’s where David came into the picture, lending his expertise and experiences identifying and profiling for the psychopath.
From there the plot unfolds and develops until at the end uncovers a shocking truth. Like I said, it’s almost impossible to put this masterpiece down. This is SIMON BECKETT’s first novel. “Chemistry of Death” is the first book in the David Hunter’s Series, followed by three more titles, “Written in bone”, “Whispers of the dead” and “The Calling of the grave”. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to acquire the remaining three books, yet. They’ve been in my wish list for a long time now. My advice, get a copy; it’s not something that should be missed by any thriller fan out there.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
In life, we have our ups and downs. I’ve tasted my fair share of cries, laughs, successes, failures, heart breaks, falling in love and all the little details that make our life meaningful. It’ll be a waste not to document our story. I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time now, but never had the ample time I need, and also I was too lazy. Recently, I came across a blog, which was written by one of my good friends, Sarah. I have to say, after reading it I was kind of inspired, or if you like, “reinspired”, to start writing my own blog. (It’s about damn time, too)
For those who already know me, guys, finally! What I’ve planned and talked about all this time, it’s finally here! For those of you who don’t know me, yet, my name is Mohd Rizal. By the end of this July, I’ll be 29 years old. Yes, I’m leaving my 20s and approaching the “middle age men” zone, or am I already a middle aged man? I’m not sure. Anyway, I’m the oldest son in my family with 2 younger brothers behind me. Now that I have finished my degree in Graphic Design, I would probably have more time to write. By the way, did I mention I’m unemployed?
I LOVE to write, and having a blog would be a very good idea for me to reach out and perhaps share all the moments and thoughts with the rest of the world. (Duh!) Before this, I had an account in Storywrite where I keep all of my fictions and horror fantasies, really appreciate it if you take a peek at those. But this time I don’t want to write fictions, I want to tell realities, true stories of my journey in life, depends on how you perceive life.
Well maybe not just the details of my life but I’ll write reviews too, anything from books, art, movies, food, videogames, places, activities, anything I can think of. Or maybe I’ll just rant some nonsense, who knows. Anything I can write about. Well, I think that’s enough for a brief introduction. Hope this blog will last, and I won’t lose interest in writing in the future. There’s so much I want to tell but let’s save them for later. Stay tuned folks!