I am not going to bore you by explaining at any kind of great length as to why Kings Lynn, the cheeky little town stuffed into the wet crack of West Norfolk England, is a major influence on my Cracktown v1.0 work.
Instead, as a life-long resident myself, I thought it’d be more entertaining to share a few of my photographs of the place, intermingled with a few amusing quotes from fellow residents that I have shamelessly plucked from other websites. Just for fun.
“We Might Live Through Him”. 2008. Town Centre.
“Round here, somehow everyone knows everyone. You slag off someone in a pub, it’ll probably turn out their whole family live in the same house and will soon turn up with their very own chav clan. In that respect, Lynn is a weird place. Not weird as in strange, we’re talking a whole new level of weirdness. It’s like people come here and can’t possibly escape.” Chavtowns.co.uk
“Playing Zeus (revised)”. 2008. Statue of Frederick Savage, founder of the mechanised fairground ride. London Road, South Lynn.
“Having lived there all my life I’ll give my view of the town. I think that Lynn would be a much nicer place if half the residents were got rid of – King’s Lynn seems to have more weirdos, wankers looking for fights, and generally anti-social messed up people than anywhere else in England. Most people are out for a fight when they go out at night. The town itself is alright, the shopping area may not be the best but its got character. Lynn has also got its fair share of toffs, mainly rich farming types etc. ” knowhere.co.uk
“Dump”. 2008. nr. London Road, South Lynn.
“The Bus Station. From around 8am to 11:30pm, 7 days a week this is strictly for the chavs and chavettes, at any given time you are guaranteed to see at least 5 specimens male or female (female usually with kids named Brooklyn, Jordan or Connor!) all communicating in chav-speak. Usually quite a dangerous place in the evening when the males gather with their cheap fags and warm Stella although earlier this year, three chavs were given a year in jail each after launching “a drunken, vicious attack” on two Portuguese gentlemen, at 1:30pm on a Saturday afternoon!” Chavtowns.co.uk
“Northern Skyline in Storm”. 2008. North Lynn.
“Jarvis Cocker of Pulp considered living here, but then he obviously visited the town. Don’t get me wrong- Kings Lynn is a pleasant enough town, with some very picturesque areas. The problem is, Kings Lynn is full of Lynners. Take all the Inbred Londoner wannabes with rat tail haircuts covered by baseball caps out and replace them with normal people, and you could get quite a nice town here. ” knowhere.co.uk
“Anyway, that was chav Lynn, after reading that I hope you all do the right thing and stay away. Trust me, you don’t want to come here, if you’ve ever heard of the phrase “a fate worse than death”, then you’ve got an idea of what life around here’s like already. Just remember, Micheal Caroll lives round these parts, and he’s possibly one of the biggest c**nts on the planet.” Chavtowns.co.uk
“The man who wrote this report is a complete arse hole and shud be shot…. there are a lot of fit birds walkin round if ya come on a friday and saturday nite.. SO FUCK YOU GOTHIC TOSSER” knowhere.co.uk
What is ‘Creative Photography’? Seems obvious. Its when you hold a camera a certain way, maybe diagonal, to make things seem a bit ‘kooky’ or ‘strange’, innit? Or when you fiddle with shutter speeds to creative a blurring effect on a passing car, perhaps?
Nope. That’s not quite right, in my book. In fact, its deadly wrong. I consider myself a fairly useless ‘photographer’; one that isn’t bound by, or even particularly knowledgeable of, technique and process such as the above.
But I DO consider myself, by way of conceptual art, at least an effective and competent ‘Creative Photographer’.
Okay, so we’ll ask again, “what is Creative Photography?” Let’s look on the web to find the answer… nope… not much info there… not even a bloody wikipedia entry. And its taken long enough to find absolutely nothing that my faithful glass of Pinot Grigio, my favourite googling companion, has depleted to a pitiful amount.
So, as you are already here, let me refill my glass and give you my definition of ‘Creative Photography’. Don’t worry, I’ll be brief;
In my mind, C.P. is all about two words, and two words only;
I. Control. II. Imagination.
That’s it. There you go. But before you shrug in disinterest, get startled by a passing squirrel, or haplessly click away onto your favourite porn sites, let me just expand a little on the definition of the above two words for a moment…
If you are a C.P.-er, you are in almost total control of your environment. If you are a C.P.-er, you do not wait hour upon hour in sub-zero temperatures to capture a Hawk Moth on a brick, you do not sleep in your car beside a field to capture a pheasant in flight at dawn, nor are you even a humble pap who preys upon Jade Goody as she drunkenly staggers out of her GP Surgery (inevitably with a monstrous kebab in one hand and her chemo prescription in the other).
Instead, YOU are the one who has responsibility over which environment or what fabricated incident you shoot, when, and how.
It is YOUR job to collect curio objects and suitable items of interest to place in shot, scout for interesting models and wardrobe garments. Indeed, it is your job to pull the whole shoot, with its many different elements, together. No one else is gonna do it for you, buster. Not even Mother Nature herself.
As a Creative Photographer, you are not controlled by your environment. You ARE your environment. You have the ultimate Control over space, time and subject. The importance of this fact far outweighs your technical competence with any camera. Control supersedes ‘correct’ Aperture settings any day of the bloody week.
All the above doesn’t really amount to a hill of beans without the conceptual imagination/creative savvy/natural artistic flair to pull it all off successfully. In fact, you obviously require the Imagination to create long before you need the Control to shoot.
It’s a simple thing, I know, but without a foundation of vivid and vibrant Imagination you do not have the right as a C.P.-er to exert your Control on the environment, its distinctive objects, nor your subjects.
You could always tell any bloke to stand around in public in a gas mask while you cheerily click away. But without the imagination to provide the whys & wherefores, without the conceptual forethought up to that point and beyond, without the benefit of hindsight or perfect choice of location, and the flair to not only link it in to the rest of your body of work, but to even chain it to contemporary issues, moods, or genuinely interesting cultural reference points, you have nothing BUT a man in a gas mask.
Again, it is essential to the C.P.-er to utilise the imagination to conceive of an idea or theme that speaks to you personally (and hopefully to attract a connection to other people in the process), together with the almost total control of your subject and environment. If you do not do this, and its always something I personally strive to do 150% of the time, you will never have a distinctive or lasting work of art.
Well, ‘addicted’ is a bit extreme, but I have certainly fallen into a firm habit of listening to 10 minutes of static on my iPod before sleep every night.
Having always had an extremely keen interest in avant garde electronic music / aural experiments / sonic terrorism / brainwave annihilation or whatever pretentious term you want to use, I recently came across news about the i-Doser program.
Basically, the i-Doser (largely unheard-of in this country) is a brainwave synchroniser that runs from your computer which, on the click of a mouse, ‘injects’ a dose of sound patterns (of various simulated experiences) into your brain via your headphones. These 10-30 minute sound patterns can nurse your brain into thinking your body is undergoing a wealth of chemical experiences from the safety of your own office chair.
What’s your fancy?You can get sound files that mimic a massive variety of potentially euphoric experiences; LSD, Ecstacy, Lucid Dreaming, Absinthe, Uppers, Downers, ‘First Love’, Astral Projection, etc.
But what really interests me are the sound files called ‘Hand of God’, ‘Gates of Hades’, and ‘White Crosses’; according to the accompanying notes, these are extremely experimental hallucinatory brainwave synchronisers that can lead to the listener having dark or sinister experiences. Top stuff.
But I am currently constantly listening to the ‘Lucid Dreaming’ bout of static sounds before bed, and my dream structures have become much more fragmented and self-conscious as a result. Very interesting – you constantly feel like a completely different human being in your dreamscapes. I can’t wait to incorporate ‘Gates of Hades’ into my dream cycles.
When I first downloaded the music files, I have to say I was less sceptical than most – I didn’t once think that this was an inept Magic Eye fad for the noughties. I was more open-minded because I know I am very susceptible to binaural brainwave stimulation.
In the early 1990’s I purchased a tape of ‘Loveless’ by sonic pioneers My Bloody Valentine. Even after an initial listen I became quite nauseous – but not in the way anyone would feel after listening to a Simply Red album, for instance. No, the effect the music had on me was actual physical nausea mixed with nervous energy. I thought it was just something I ate, but the effect continued every time I played this classic album. I didn’t think too much more about it, until I read on the net many years later that other people have experienced disorientation and sickness when listening to the album. It was all down to ‘binaural patterns’, apparently.
I thought it was astounding that, even though all sounds audible to humans have an effect on the listener, the effect that MBV had on me with the ‘Loveless’ album was pretty unambiguously mind-blowing.
So, then in my mid-teens, I ventured further into the music of experimental pioneers such as Hafler Trio, Autechre, Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, and the more extremely layered output from Aphex Twin. I even dabbled with EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon – the recording of voices of unknown origin, or ‘communication with the dead’) in an attempt to gain new sonic/brain experiences. I often coupled these intense listening sessions with long bouts of curtains-closed solitude, sleep deprivation, and Golden Dawn-era magickal instruction. It would be fair to say that I was pretty much addicted to strange new conscious and subconscious experiences back then – I probably still am. I couldn’t tell you exactly why. Maybe I was just another bored teenager in a rural setting who had no access to hard drugs. I dunno.
I soon wanted to create my own surreal soundscapes and, by the close of the millennium, I had recorded a bunch of cut/paste demos that were directly influenced by EVP and Hafler Trio. In other words, an industrial landscape that had strange speeches and unidentifiable sounds drifting in and out of a static foreground.
I recorded these demos under the guise of The ICB Project, the demos grouped under an EP called ‘Tear’*. The CD was of a limited edition of 1 (with free floppy disk of extras). In other words, no-one beside myself ever listened to them. Until recently.
[2000 artwork for the originally planned ICB Project album]
I unearthed these tracks from my archive, dusted them down, re-edited some of them and saved another demo from extinction, and they happened to be perfectly suited to being the soundtrack for my 2008 conceptual art project Cracktown v1.0.
It took nearly a decade, but the demos are now available for all to listen – if you have nothing else better to do. Admittedly, they are a bit chaotic (thus perfect for Cracktown), but there are some interesting peppercorns to be picked from the manure of these tracks – like the use of a Vicks Medicated Cough Drops advert from the 1950’s mixed with the sound of a woman screaming herself hoarse as she’s being violently attacked. Of dubious taste, perhaps, but effective I think. And that appears on the Cracktown ‘An Ending’ viral clip, found here.
Anyway, back to i-Doser. I thoroughly recommend you give it a go and see how your brain reacts to it. The free download comes with some free ‘dose’ MP3 files for your iPod or PC music player, including ‘Marijuana’ and ‘Cocaine’, but the more experimental ones can be found for download elsewhere on the net if you don’t want to pay for them through i-Doser. Though I cannot endorse you doing so, of course.