Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Lost Art Of The Compliment

More of a sharing post today than anything pertaining to my own thoughts. A friend, Chloe, linked me to this article and, with my exams *mostly* out of the way, I finally got around to reading it.

The article: The Lost Art Of The Compliment.

It's essentially just about what it really means to compliment someone - why we do it, what effect it has, when the correct time to do so is. It's something I'd never necessarily thought about before. I must admit though that I kind of disagree with the author's initial view in regards to the weight compliment. I know it's probably odd for me to be taking an optimistic view but I never necessarily saw it as a hollow ice-breaker, or a reminder of how one *used* to be like he did. Considering the effort I'd gone through to lose a lot of weight (and still am), the odd occasion someone mentions it that I haven't seen in awhile... It really does brighten up my day.

As for motives and whatnot though, and the correct moment to compliment deeper in the article, I must agree that it should never be forced. They really do mean a lot more when it's just out of the blue, even mid-conversation. I know one thing I get constantly complimented on - and I'm not quite sure why - is my eyes. I've had a number of people just randomly comment on their 'blue-ness' when just standing in the canteen line or something such as Rachel. I know in the middle of a shift at Red Rooster I was in the middle of a conversation with Mariah and Colby at different points, and even just disregarding the conversation for a short moment each commented on my eyes out of the blue - just because they felt it needed to be said. Not to *start* conversations, but to merely acknowledge. That's the sort of compliment that actually means something to me, like he states in the article.

Sure hearing "Nice [x]" from a friend or a stranger is nice and all, but it never means as much. The more personal the comment, the more out of the blue it is, the better. It shows an actual element of observation rather than a fleeting moment or glance. He mentions almost developing this 'hypersensitivity' to the details of people, finding something unique and interesting, something to be admired, about the people that he meets, rather than just letting everyone blur into the crowd. That seems more like the kind of attitude I should work on adopting. Taking the time to stop and look around, to notice things, to admire.

I figure I should stop here - anything I say will just be written far more eloquently and made so captivating in the article itself. He really did have quite a way with words, made everything seem so thoughtful.

...and in hindsight I guess I just complimented him. Still, as cliched as it probably is, it needed to be said.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Common Courtesy Isn't So Common

Seriously, whatever happened to common courtesy? Having just completed Paper 1 on Belonging today for English, I'm slightly disconcerted that I almost feel like the protagonist of my creative story, hanging onto values in a world where they're progressively becoming outdated and irrelevent.

Whatever happened to the times when a cashier was actually friendly,
not just spouting polite idioms?

Whatever happened to the times when an apology was actually apologetic,
not something just stated to get rid of the awkwardness?

Whatever happened to the times when a person could ask politely for something to be done,
not having to resort to anger or some form of deterrent due to almost bratty resistance?

Whatever happened to the times when a favour was actually a favour,
not some ludicrous transaction where everything was perfectly balanced?

Whatever happened to the times when people were actually attentive to a conversation,
not just a time filler until boredom or obligations consume one of the participants?

Whatever happened to the times when a gift was actually a gift,
not an investment or an obligation to get a future return?

I really wonder what happened to all that. As of late it just seems like these things are increasingly becoming a rarity, really different to how it was a decade or so ago. Maybe that's just the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia for my childhood that're skewing my perceptions, but I can't help but feel that's the way things used to be. More simple and personal. I know I'm not the only one who tries to retain these sort of values, and I'm thankful for those other people who do their best as well. It's those sort of people that make life worth living. Make it pleasant. I'm well aware this post is slightly more ranty than usual but I blame the HSC English paper for that, heh.

I really just long for the day when such values begin to make a more mainstream comeback.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Polaroid Past

Short post today, especially since everything I'm about to say is explained in a longer post elsewhere.

Anyway, since I haven't updated in awhile, I thought I'd just quickly mention a side project I've started. Essentially, I'm aiming to take a photo a day that some how applies to what I was feeling that day or eludes in some way to the day's activities. Not necessarily aiming for 'profound' or 'inspirational' shots or anything, but rather just chronicling my existence for the next year. Then, since I love Polaroids and they have this nostalgic feel about them, but the film itself is too expensive, I figured I'd photoshop each of these daily photos into a Polaroid format - just for an aesthetic if nothing else.

The blog itself is here: Polaroid Past.

Full explanation can be read here: Polaroid Past - The Concept.

Anyway, not a great deal more to say on it. It's not exactly for an 'audience' as such, but it just gave me something to talk about in the mean time on this blog. It's more for personal intrigue, just to look back in a year's time and go through all the photos in one go - a year of my existence. Figured I'd at least wait until I had a week or so of photos up before announcing it, though one or two people found it on their own anyway.

I know starting it right before the HSC when I won't be going anywhere as much to take more interesting photos probably wasn't the smartest thing, but now that I've started I won't be stopping until it's been 365 days, heh.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fifty People, One Question, Zero Study

Been a bit under the weather today so my study has taken a hit, which isn't exactly great the week before my first HSC exam. Anyway, I can't particularly find the time, energy or brainpower to write anything too substantial (which should please Shuang and the like who prefer things short and sweet, haha) so instead I thought I'd just link to this video.

There's actually a number of videos, a few of which get linked to at the end of this one, and even more if you google. Essentially, the premise is simply that this guy goes to a town somewhere in the world and pulls over 50 strangers on their daily walk to ask them a basic question with no limitations on the answer - for example, "Where would you like to wake up tomorrow?" or "What do you wish would happen by the end of the day?" - and then collages the video responses together to contrast all the different characters of the city, as well as their vastly differing and interesting answers. The videos just had a great atmosphere to them, so I'll say no more and let anyone who's interested to judge for themselves.

Really just makes you think. When a question is so simple it's amazing how easy it is to go blank, unless you adopt a stock standard response. Honestly, myself, I have no idea.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Before I Tango With The Reaper...

...I've been thinking of a few things that I'd like to do - before the end of my days. I was essentially bored of studying, felt like updating my blog yet had nothing particular to say, and thought I'd try and update my "Things To Do Before I Die" list and see how it has developed since I last thought of it. Some of them are incredibly mundane, whilst others are slightly larger goals. Behold, in no particular order!
  1. Travel to America (and possibly meet a friend there if able), Japan, and somewhere yet-to-be-determined in Europe.
  2. Land a job in graphic design or advertising, after having preferably attended the Visual Communications course at UTS.
  3. Get a slinky autographed by Hamish Blake & Andy Lee.
  4. Get a photo with Natalie Tran, the Communitychannel girl from YouTube.
  5. Learn how to dance and/or mosh to some description, whether it be an actual style or just generic when-the-music-is-playing type dancing.
  6. See Daft Punk in concert and apply some of the aforementioned skills in number 5.
  7. Obtain the largest stuffed Mario mushroom possible.
  8. Buy a 'fancy' pseudo-novelty belt buckle, so it's still metallic but has an interesting image/symbol/design/etc.
  9. Publish a book.
  10. Finally win something out of a Stacker game machine, instead of the machine cheating me at the final line every single time.
  11. Get Charles Martinet's autograph - the voice of Mario. He was in Sydney this year but his only store appearance was on a Wednesday, so I missed out due to school. Bah.
  12. Attend any form of video game music concert played by an orchestra, such as the Eminence or Play! Symphony Orchestras, among others. Or, bar that, just see a live orchestra of any sort.
  13. Learn to drive, heh.
  14. Move to Sydney or somewhere not too far from Sydney.
  15. Lose another 10 or so kilos, and finally get myself in proper shape when time allows.
  16. Have something properly exhibited in an art gallery or museum.
  17. Have a lucid dream.
  18. Experience anti-gravity, even if it's only that fake anti-gravity simulation thing they can do on a fast-moving plane. Apparently these planes are called 'Vomit Comets'.
  19. Finally get around to giving blood at least once.
  20. Participate in some form of scavenger hunt, along the lines of an 'Amazing Race' type deal, though probably held more locally such as around the city.
  21. Win a trophy from a competition, as opposed to a schooling or sporting trophy. It can be any sort of competition at all, even as obscure as, say, Lawrence Leung's Rubik's Cube trophy, for example.
  22. Learn to use chopsticks properly. I learnt once, temporarily, but then forgot by the next time that I had to use them.
  23. Learn to paint. I never really honed my skills in that and just focused on drawing, but I'd like to improve one day.
  24. Invent something, even if it never is never commercially successful. I just want to invent something that would be useful to me personally, if no one else.
  25. Own an SLR camera, and pursue photography in some form whether it be as a career in photojournalism, for competitions, or just as a personal hobby.
  26. Learn to play a musical instrument, preferably either the violin or piano.
  27. Properly sing karaoke at an actual karaoke bar without getting embarrassed or completely and utterly sucking. Just perform slightly above the level of terrible, maybe sub-par.
  28. Meet Tim Burton and/or Danny Elfman, and get some form of photo or signature.
  29. Paint a pair of my own shoes with some sort of retro gaming pattern, like Tetris or Pac-Man, ever since discussing it with Lynneal a year or two ago.
  30. Ride, or possibly own, a segway.
...Considering the first time I wrote a list like this about a year ago and it only had ten things, it's grown quite considerably. Good to know I have some stuff to aim for in life. I might try and keep this post updated and cross things off as they happen, though when and if I cross any of these things off is a mystery. Oh well, that's all for today.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Breaking Open The Nostalgia Box

Considering graduation just ended and there's a flood of nostalgia, I figured I would finally do something I haven't done in two years.

Be warned - it'll be a long post, most likely due to the amount of images.

Ever since the beginning of Year 11, I figured I'd try and turn things around with no regrets, since I'd missed out on a great deal in the junior years. It all began after meeting I guy called John from Pendle Hill during a week of work experience at a news company in graphic design. I'm not sure what it was, but something about just the way he talked about his friends spurred me on to finally be more social, and to go a bit beyond my boundaries that I was comfortable with. In order to remember these things, and a constant reminder to live with no regrets, I began the Nostalgia Box, where I threw every little object and trinket, beginning with the notebook from that very week at work experience.

The overflowing Nostalgia Box.

Anyway, I finally actually delved back into the box after two years of only throwing things in, and what an eventful year it has been. Full of growth, new experiences, and most importantly - new friendships, and continuing old ones. I figure that a picture says a thousand words, and the rush of nostalgia is barely able to be described, so I'll try to focus mainly on images with a only small explanation in this post.

Behold, the magnificent contents.

Behold, the nostalgia box. Two years worth of memories locked away in this thing, though I use the term 'locked' loosely as it is literally overflowing now with nostalgia. Just quickly, I couldn't get photos of everything because it's just so full, so here's a few extras, like Shuang's handcrafted invitation to her 18th birthday outing, or pens from the school librarian from my work on the year magazine. Also inside are some 3D glasses from a few films such as Coraline and Up, or a number of brochures from various art exhibitions that I've been to see with friends in the past two years, ranging from the AGNSW and MCA, to the Object Gallery or exhibitions at COFA. There's also a farewell card from Kate acquired recently, along with the tag she had wrapped around the accompanying chocolate.

The Easter Show!

One of the first items I found inside was a day program from the Easter Show earlier this year. It was absolutely epic. Both school friends and external friends came along (after an environmental rally in the morning which was also awesome), went on a number of rides, saw Vex Reverend with David, Pat, Elliot, and Zac from school in it perform, got a photo with the infomercial guy from Sunrise, and so much more.

Party Panda!

Continuing on from the Easter Show, this is also a stuffed panda I won at one of the sideshows. The stylish hat he is wearing is a blue party hat - one of a set that we all rocked for an entire day in the city for Derek's birthday. Totally stylin'.


Littered all the way through the box were an incredible number of free postcards, often stolen in a raid of the rack with Shuang and co. as we grabbed any free things we could find at any venue that had them available. The photo above only shows a *very* small selection of what is a ridiculous amount of postcards (sometimes even doubles) that will never be used. Never hurts to have nostalgic free stuff though.

National Art School forms and an invite to the final exhibition.

....and who could forget the two week course at the National Art School during 2008. Seriously, it was quite possibly one of the best experiences of my high school life. Not only was it an immensely enjoyable learning experience, an outlet for some creative freedom and new techniques, and more, but it created the foundations for some new (and some of my best) friendships ever since. Whether they were people I'd known prior from school, but just not gotten that close to in the past (Dora and Shuang), or entirely new friendships from a number of schools (Derek, Julie, Johnny, Stella), or even meeting Alicia's apparent clone, it truly was one of the greatest growing experiences I've ever encountered. Even the general atmosphere of the area, such as visiting Pie Face (and devouring an terribly undercooked quiche), or...

A Yoshinoya brochure, and some original Yoshinoya chopsticks, never been used.

...experiencing the much loved and now lost Yoshinoya beef bowl. The brochure was only recently acquired from Dora, as she'd thankfully held onto it. That, and after digging through my box of odds and ends, I came across some chopsticks from my first ever visit to Yoshinoya with Derek during the NAS week, kept in pristine condition and never used because, at the time, I couldn't use chopsticks anyway. I only partially learnt how to use them like half a year to a year later, heh. Certainly some great memories in that place, revisited many times before it closed.

First ever concert. The Red Paintings, woooo!

Next up was both a ticket and a newspaper clipping I found detailing my first ever concert - The Red Paintings. Yes, I know, my first concert was kind of late, only being in Year 11 and all, but I don't mind. Went with Kirsti and Joel (though at the time I was quite awkward and I'm pretty sure Joel thought I was retarded, heh), as well as my sister and my cousin, and they had a great stage presence. Awesome costumes, great music, very artsy atmosphere. Still a great night overall.

Miscellaneous memorabilia from Newtown.

Next up is an odd assortment of items purchased from Newtown with Dora/Lynneal/Shirley/Bas. I'd completely forgotten about some of this stuff, such as the small blue button badge that evokes memories of the *epic* button store that had buttons up to the size of one's head. Gould's was equally incredible - the sheer amount of books and reading all over the place was amazing, so I figured I'd buy a cheap comic as a token of the day (which just so happened to be an Issue #1 of this series, wewt).


Next up are a few odd Nintendo items from *both* days of the Nintendo Connection Tour for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Went the first day with Kirsti and Joel, and the second day with Alex, Jeremy, and Lee. DESPITE the fact that I got beaten by a 5 year old girl at one point (which I have still not lived down), it was altogether awesome. Also, the hideous Polaroid they took for my ID Card for the competition resulted in some amused laughs from the girls at Subway when we went to order lunch, followed by some terrible flirting when they were quite obviously just trying to flog a sandwich, heh.

Miscellaneous Adobe scribblings.

Buried toward the bottom of the box was the item that started it all - this old and semi-useless notepad from my week of work experience in graphic design at a news company. I pretty much explained this in the opening paragraphs, but it's just a reminder of starting things over in my senior years, all because of that random John guy I met that week from Pendle Hill.

Ticket explosion.

Scattered throughout the box is a number of tickets from random places I've been and things I've seen. By no means is this picture exhaustive, as there were PLENTY more where these came from. This was just as many as I could fit in a single picture whilst still remaining barely readable. Ranges from movie tickets (e.g. Lars & The Real Girl, Coraline and Fame), bus and train tickets to a number of places, art exhibition tickets (such as the Archibald or Monet exhibitions), a ticket to a King Curly concert, some random receipts, and who knows what else. So many scraps of paper in that box, but each holds so many memories.

The collection of Derek's cheap-yet-amusing paper CD cases.

One of the recurring themes throughout the box was a number of Derek's paper CD cases for things he'd burnt me over the last year. I think I just kept them because of the thoroughly amusing images or messages he'd always draw on them, with my personal favourite being the first one depicting both the awkward squid and the sad orangutan (whom I'd completely forgotten about). Ah, the sad orangutan... created after he destroyed the statue of Diana back in the drawing class at NAS and then basically curled up in a corner with his drawing pad, heh.

Miscellaneous scraps of paper that were thoroughly amusing reminders of earlier times.

Oh now *these* were certainly a surprise. Random scrap pieces of paper that most likely all require some sort of explanation. Firstly, the "Happy Happiness" card and the manly pink present were concocted in a free period by Shuang for a number of us, celebrating her newly created holiday of "Happiness". Instantly put a smile back on my face just looking at it. The next is a random note from Srishti (note that the "Nordeau" name is an in-joke between the two of us) that, when Shuang, Dora, and I were all cooped up in the art rooms constantly working on our bodies of work, she littered the room with a random note for each of us that made no sense, but each was still absolutely hilarious. Lastly, the Cloud Cadet badge was received during an FBI Radio Concert with Ama/Shuang/Derek/Dora where we went to see Cloud Control. Aside from the ridiculously crap band known as The Bennisons, the rest of them were awesome. Sierra Fin were epic, and even signed my Frisbee, Tom Ugly - though not necessarily my type of music - had a great stage presence and entertainment value, and then Cloud Control was...

Absolutely. Freaking. Awesome.

Awkward Squid draft illustrations. The bottom left was the final choice.

The very last of these photos for now is one of a number of draft sketches for the Awkward Squid t-shirt that Johnny and I collaborated on (even though he actually got his made and I just... never got around to making mine). Though the awkward squid has died down slightly as of late amongst our group, it still lives on every once and awhile, going all the way back to the drawing class at NAS yet again, when I introduced them all to it after learning it from my cousin. Courtney from NAS even made an epic awkward squid emoticon to accompany it, and Johnny wore his shirt we made to the Sculpture By The Sea exhibition meet-up we had. Good times.

...Well, I guess I should stop rambling as that ended up far longer than intended, yet again. I know half of you probably just gave up altogether or only skimmed the pictures, but I don't mind. Even considering the length, this is only a minor snippet of the full contents of the box, which is only set to continue growing (possible in a new and bigger box). If anything, it was a bit more therapeutic for me, reliving the past two years which, with both their massive ups and incredible downs, have been exceedingly epic, due to the shared experiences with friends - new and old.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Memory Manipulation: Can Candids Do?

Considering the flood of graduation blog posts, I figured I'd avoid the inevitable and take a slightly different approach, especially since Julie so eloquently stated pretty much everything I could say on the subject in her own insightful post. For those interested, it can be read here: Julie's "End Of An Era" Blogpost. I echo every one of her sentiments, pretty much, so I shall just quickly conclude with the fact that graduation day was the most epic day ever, and that everyone will be thoroughly missed. For additional details, just insert Julie's thoughts here, heh.

Apologies for the length of this post. It turned out far longer than I'd imagined.

Now, with graduation having ended (despite the fact that the HSC exams are still looming), I've grown exceedingly nostalgic, glancing through a myriad of older photos to try and re-live the days now gone. On graduation day alone I took 445 photos, which was downright ridiculous. It was just a marathon of luvos and flashes until my camera died right before we entered the hall for the official ceremony. This brings me to the topic of today's post, however...

Which is better? The forced/organised/preconstructed 'Luvo', or the possibly-terrible-yet-more-authentic candid photograph?

Obviously people want their photos to look good, so that they'll remember the day on which it was taken in a positive fashion. Still, looking through a lot of those 'Luvo' shots, though some look great cause everyone was generally enjoying the day (whether it be graduation day or some time in the past), there are always those other shots where there is something eerie inhabiting the person's expression - that subtle signifier that alerts the viewer to the fact that, yes, this happiness is a tad forced or false. A few pieces of evidence, if you will.

Derek *trying* to appear happy, after the infamous
Lost Space Coyote incident...

Forced 'Luvo' with Jayanie after a massive delay with the camera.

Just two examples. I mean, sure, everyone has a smile on their face, and Derek even has two thumbs up, but these are just a few examples of these disconcerting feelings I find in the odd photograph when someone is told to smile. The one of Derek, firstly, was taken at a time when he was slightly down about losing a painting, so obviously there's a manner of sadness about it despite the smiling facade (especially since Shuang continually brought it up after it had happened, heh). The one with Jayanie was under different circumstances. In this case, the person wasn't necessarily unhappy, but rather (as my camera's battery was dying), the camera was taking ages to actually take the picture, and as a consequence both of us were a little fed up with it, trying to hold a smile and position for at least 10-15 seconds. So, by the time the photo is actually taken, there's a distinct quality of forced emotion in the image, even if the actual mood of the day and time was still generally positive.

These are just examples of how the 'Luvo' can go slightly wrong, in a sense. There are always those posed shots that turn out great, but I'd hazard a guess that, at least some of the time, it was because the people were actually laughing or smiling at the time prior to the photo, and not necessarily doing it because it was just about to be taken. So, in essence, it becomes a slightly truer, yet there's still that haunting element of articifiality, even in those. Now, take the candid...

Sure, there's a greater likelihood that these photos can turn out terrible, that people will be caught at unflattering angles, that their faces will be contorted from a split second of changing expression or speaking. Still, when candid photos do turn out well, I generally tend to favour them over the 'Luvo' which, while it may have a higher "success" rate, they never seem to capture the day in its true entirety, but rather a constructed happiness for future viewing. Take these few candid photos as examples.

Candid of Jacinta from down at the river.
I actually quite like this shot, even if she doesn't.

Candid of laughter from the Easter Show earlier this year.

Now, even though the one of Jacinta was only taken a day or two ago, I know she hated a lot of the more candid ones. It seems some people just prefer those photos where they have complete control over how they look, as well as the fact that people seem to be more critical of how they look in a candid even when it turns out well, possibly just because they didn't choose for it to be taken in that exact position or they aren't directly facing the camera. As for the other shot, personally I find shots of laughter, even if not always the most flattering or slightly blurred, to be far more jubilant and fulfilling to look at than a constructed smile. It just showcases that raw happiness so much better, despite the greater chance of an imperfection due to the random nature of it all.

I'm reluctant to bring Extension English into this, but from studying Life Writing it has taught me this one thing. In the act of writing or creation of a subject, often the persona in which one is portrayed is constructed in much the same matter that the medium is, since they have complete control over both their own portrayal and that of others. I find it to be the same with photographs. It's only when the outcome of the photo is totally out of the control of the subject that any positive sentiments that come out of it can be truly exemplified. A positive shot becomes a thousand times more positive in my book, simply because it was taking at any random point of the day and still showed this sense of positivity - thus, when reviewing later, it gives the impression of an overarching positivity throughout.

So I guess, linking that back to graduation, I'm actually slightly reluctant I didn't take more candids. Well, I did take plenty during the middle of the day around the water-fighting-cardboard-tobogganning-log-standing-forest-exploring escapades. However, as for the actual shots at school, it was more of a frenzied running around to find friends you still hadn't taken a photo with, and due to the time restraints of the day many of them were just a quick 'Luvo' and then we were off. Looking back, sure, a lot of them display a genuine happiness because we're all laughing and having a good time as we pose anyway, but there are those shots that, whilst they look "good", don't necessarily capture the epic nature of the day to the greatest extent.

That's just my opinion though, and I'm sure plenty of people can go either way. I just love embracing the candid, in all the trial-and-error imperfect nature of them, because when you do get that perfect capture...

It's priceless.