Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chapel of St. Kinga

This is the 10,400 square foot Chapel of St. Kinga, carved out of rock salt in the Wieliczka salt mine in Poland. I like the idea of passing through a prayer place before the real drop off into the deep dark of the mine. Apparently, so did a lot of the miners.

Wolfgang Hutter

Some of the work from Wolfgang's book Zauberflote. Go here for the source, which is 50 Watts, the new site from that guy who ran the deservedly famous A Journey Round My Skull blog.

Susan Derges

Susan Derges is something of an alchemist. A photographer exploring the camera's ability to allude to the invisible rather then merely record the visible. In fact, she often doesn't use a camera at all! Much of her work is the result of a loosely controlled physical interaction with the natural world, laying photo paper in and amongst the elements and using ambient, evening light to expose them. She has also revealed the latent physicality of sound waves as they leave impressions of themselves through other mediums. I first heard of her through a large, beautiful collection of her work, simply and approriately entitled Elemental.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Aokigahara Forest, The Sea of Trees

AOKIGAHARA forest is assuredly one of the scariest places on the Earth. It sprawls vastly from the northwest base of Mount Fiji in the magical but troubled land of Japan. I haven't been able to nail down exactly why but, curiously indeed, the forest in known for having a very minimal wildlife population. Apparently one almost never hears birdsong even. That fact, coupled with the wind-blocking density of the trees, makes this place quiet, quiet, quiet all of the time. Growing from a magma base, spewed from Fiji herself God knows how long ago, the woods have had a difficult time with the hard and rocky ground. This has led them to sprawl their roots out everywhere, making foot traffic nearly impossible in some areas. Underneath this thick, choking growth above, the ground is home also to many caves below, some of them with ice year round. Tourists visit a few of these caves but most of them are unexplored and surely there are many that are undiscovered all together.
The history of Aokigahara Jukai is grim enough. The place has historically been associated with demons or Yurei (Japanese ghosts) for hundreds of years now. In times past it was a regularly used locale for the notorious act of Ubasute which means to leave a dependent to die. Apparently, among the impoverished, those that could not feed or help themselves were often brought to the forest and left there, presumably starving to death and if so, undoubtedly filling some of the silence of the forest. Legends and myths about this place abound, including one that says there are huge iron deposits in the ground which will make your compass go haywire and facilitate losing one's way. One thing we do know for a fact though is that many, many people have died in this place. Aokigahara forest is an inexplicable suicide vortex. That's right. It's one of the world's most popular suicide destinations, second only to the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco (a decidedly less terrifying place) Approximately thirty bodies were found in the forest annually for some time, spiking then to seventy three in 1998, then to seventy eight in 2002 and a little over a hundred the year after that. Since then the Japanese government has been withholding the statistics from the public in a desperate avoidance of fueling the forest's reputation. Like on the Golden Gate, there are many signs posted here and there urging people to reconsider their actions, written both in Japanese and English. There are forestry divisions at work here but even they tend to avoid lengthy travel. When they do find bodies they are often well into the state of decay. Because of this light travel, even by caretakers, there is said to be a peculiarly disquieting variety of litter in these woods. If you were to visit Aokigahara you would likely find skulls, some long lines of colored tape, used to find one's way back from a trek and then discarded, many many bouquets of flowers left by the bereaved, various left behind suicide tools both recent and ancient. And yes, if you take a long enough, deep enough, brave enough walk you will probably encounter a hanging body. Or two.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I like snakes! Apparently, so does the phenomenal, classical photographer Guido Mocafico , who captures textures within textures with his gorgeous portraiture of all kinds of good stuff: Snakes, Clocks, Guns, Jellyfish, Snakes...need I go on? Please check out his site where there is much to find beautiful. These selections are all from a giant coffee table book entitled Serpens. What really, really makes these snakes is the squared off compositions...brilliant!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Show Me Your Dream

Ilya Repin

Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Hans Bellmer

Shigeru Mizuki



Toshio Saeki


Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I recently had the thrill of seeing the legendary band SWANS perform here in Portland last Sunday, the 27th. Jesus come down! As you might expect it was relentless, pulverizing, beautiful, ugly. I was confident I wouldn't be disappointed and yet it's always good to have those feelings extensively validated. For those of you who aren't familiar I would recommend you proceed with caution. This group is not for everyone. In fact, taken as a whole, they are for very few of us. I typically stray from making grand pronouncements like this, but Swans are basically the heaviest band I've ever heard. Now there's an interesting thing: This word heavy, that we so often only associate with the various metal genres. Swans are decidedly not a heavy metal band. At every step of their long, zig-zagging career they have defied description anyway. The kinds of tonalities they produce are unorthodox for any group working within the "loud" music field and yet in terms of sheer overall intensity you would be hard pressed to find an equally disturbing peer. The band is the fickle plaything of notorious front man Michael Gira (pronounced jeer-AH, despite the fact that I and everyone else I know who gives a shit continues to regularly and carelessly mispronounce GEAR-ah. Get it right or don't, just fall in line.) After some time of listening to this intensely haunted voice I always wondered what my physical impressions of the man would be when i finally saw him. (I have unfortunately never seen his alternate antithesis project The Angels of Light) To say the least, he is a bit scary. I enjoyed watching him aggressively direct the excellent band he has assembled for this tour. (The drums and bass in particular sounded fucking awesome) That is, he occasionally threw his commanding fingers at all of them except the only original member, guitarist Norman Westberg, who must know the drill pretty fucking well by now, I'm sure. Or maybe he has just known Gira long enough to be spared some of his mania. In any event, they shook my bowels and stirred my soul and I was pleasantly surprised at the patience of the audience, especially during Gira's occasional creepy, solo voicings.

Incidentally, here is a freaky image of the great Hank Williams, which hangs somewhere in my room. I put it together the night after the show. Do you see it too?