Wednesday, 20 January 2021

MY COVID FINGERS

 

One day last week I had  my reading glasses on and I glanced down at my hands, ( just to check in disbelief that I actually needed this focal aid) Anyhow with the ability to focus I noticed that my fingers bore the scars of a life lived and wondered how many of the marks and nicks had been experienced over the last year of extreme washing and cleaning, or was there a longer timeline involved in the marking up of my prints!

I was listening to the radio a day or two after and I heard an interview with a man of 107 years old. Michael J O'Connor from Muckross, in Kerry is an amazing character with a perspective on life that we can only imagine.

As a child of six he was unfortunate to contract the Spanish flu. Remarkably he recovered but sadly it killed his mother. From this start this man lived through two world wars, (was torpedoed in the first one)  lived through endless cycles of recessions, the ups and downs of life and now seems to be coping well with the latest challenge Covid 19.

According to Worldometer  2 million 68 thousand and 272 people have died as a result of this global pandemic  to date and at present the race is on to inoculate it out of our lives. We can not discard at any stage the effect this has had on the communities effected, or deny the hurt felt by relatives who were not even able to say a personal goodbye to someone they had shared their life with. To me it is unimaginable and difficult to accept the fact that we might before it is all over contract or be killed by it, or have to watch the same happen to a close friend or family member.

So I block that bit out and do what I can to help break the chain of infection (hand-washing, mask wearing and distancing etc.).  But the havoc isolation is wreaking on our lives is a tough one to quantify. This in fact is a worry and we will live with its consequences for years after the covid 19 event has been halted. 

Children are loosing so much at all ages now it is sad to witness the loneliness and isolation caused just by separating them from their peers.

Third level students in a lot of cases have not seen the inside of their colleges at all if they are in first year and perhaps since March last year for others.

Workers have been embracing working from home, but there are a whole set of ills that must be addressed to enable a seamless transition to this form of work  and the  jump start that was covid 19 was not a good start. So you have back aches and RSI  from bad furniture, huge expense re light, heat, internet, blurred boundaries both in time and space and of course the negative effects of no socialisation with ones co-workers.

The elderly have a huge burden to contend with, fear of infection, isolation, nutrition, no socialisation and of course the passage of useful time, or that fear of spending your last years in a prison or some sort of purgatorial waiting area before your inevitable death. The older you are the stronger this feeling of time lost must weigh on your soul.

With pubs abandoned,  restaurants closed and personal contact shunned what have people been doing  with there spare time?  I suppose the answer is positive things and negative things.

My Christmas this year was totally family focused and un-fussed, it worked, it was a fine time for all of us and we did it effectively for all. That was very positive.

Earlier in the Pandemic I ramped up my habitual swimming with a vigor previously unwitnessed in my life.   For all but two days in the last opening of my local pool (I missed the first and could not bring myself to the last out of sadness), I managed to swim a kilometer a day everyday with no gaps. This made me tired, so regulated my sleep, got me up early in the morning, gave me a good start to the day, slowed down my consumption of wine and made the rest of the lock down easier to take. (This now gone I am concentrating on late nights and lie ins to make up for the elation, but to date no success).

Work wise all has faded to crash levels but my work in education continues. Thankfully this has provided me with something to focus on and the enthusiasm of both my young and adult learners has been a source of great strength for me.

Money wise though I don't know  how long more I can take this financial pummelling, it's at stronger levels than the financial crash (the one where we were powerless and sat on by the troika).  But once we are sitting at home inactive we just need to feed ourselves and I suppose that takes only a little cash. 

Government reaction to this situation overall has been reasonable, leaving us with a certain liberty and /or some freedom of choice. However there was some reluctance to tread on the Good Friday protocol and our 'special' relationship with the U.K.  Our Island which may have been insulated by water was not as well protected as, lets say other Island nations. (travel bans not issued until the emergence of new variant strains of covid).

Whilst these reactions are all subtle I can not avoid noticing some worrying local developments where the state of emergency has been grabbed and actions have been taken that are abuses of authority - the 'power grab' that can happen when peoples attention is diverted by hard circumstance.

Previously I commented on the bad planting on a so called 'covid mobility' route on Grangegorman,  I was so upset by the bad gardening that I posted about it here.  I had my suspicions at the time but lets say that these have been borne out by developments at the site in question since my posting.  The shabby gardening has been redone and corrected, that is fine for sure, but the route which was an official covid mobility scenario, has been made permanent without the crisis being over and with out any normality to patterns of travel being re - established.  I ask the question now is this evidence of a cynical hijacking of power during a crisis by an interested party to speed up their agenda, or even to make their objectives achievable in a time where it is possible and could there be other such cicumstances rearing their heads around out country?

My gaze returns to my fingers,  I hold them up to my face and peer out to the world,  I note that I am weary of it, but my focus can shift with efficiency  between the two, well at least when I  wear the right coloured spectacles!







Monday, 4 January 2021

THE GOLDEN SHIT SHOVEL

 So on we go with those precious items that mean so much to us, the next is the "Golden Shit Shovel".

It is in fact my second attempt in a couple of days to make this job of work and you can see below in the image on the left that it can be clearly seen how the emulsion, the magic juice of the polaroid has solidified and refused to be squeezed out over the film to process the negative.

This sheet was left out of the fridge for over a month and now I have a better idea of its shelf life once un-thawed (two weeks max).  It is so important that we know the properties of the materials we use and how they react when they hit the air, or indeed react with other substances they come into contact with.



Anyhow, this  small utility shovel used for cleaning ashes from the grate which a few years ago came into its own as an integral part of an art project that went astray. 

Allow me to explain.

I previously tried to tell this tale and had prepared this much of the text back in 2017 which gets the story to a particular point.

This  seasonal anecdote has at its heart the same message as an earlier post on the lilliputian entitled birdstrike

A couple of weeks ago whilst walking into town I happened to pass Bolton Street College and The Chocolate Factory  on my way to power up an Exhibition in the NPA. Something caught my eye as I passed the slightly recessed joint between the Bolton Street building and the tall and elegant industrial facade of the Williams and Wood building, now home to the Chocolate Factory - an arts and Industry building -  the former site of the Irish Toblerone franchise and former home of  Silvermints (an Irish classic).
 Any how I noticed that some unfortunate had found them self in this semi-recessed place caught short with no access to a toilet and poo-ed on the street! Fairly normal thing you might assume.  I being doomed to make this observation was also doomed to pass this space every day for the next two weeks and on each occasion I had to note that this turd was not being removed.

I wondered who was responsible for this liminal space, this no mans land between  public street, educational institution and artistic entrepreneurial space where this rock now resided and was settling  in.

I looked and thought deeply. It was to the right of the Chocolate factory but a few inches directly outside the DIT College, but sitting back off the footpath, the domain of the City Council.

 

so to continue....

Looking at this everyday and seeing that it was only some 20 metres from two Dublin City  Council bins that flanked the entrance to Bolton Street College and also noting that the street was regularly swept, I was bewildered. I though and I thought, how could I express my disbelief in my cities ability to perform a simple clean-up. 

I had the following Idea, I could put the shit in the bin, but before I did I could paint it Gold, photograph it and create a  GOLDEN TURD  award and present it to the cleansing departments local office responsible for this spot. Then the award could become an annual event, where some incompetent official is awarded this stinker every year.

Given that this is a negative kind of award, we should really concentrate on the upside/not the downside and considering the logistical difficulties and the possibilities of infection in the field you would think that my mind would be the terminal point of this pre-occupation.

But after locating the  above shovel in my back garden, purchasing a can of gold spray in Evans Art Shop and securing a set of conservation grade surgical type gloves, I made my plan.

So late one January night 2017 I set out with my Hasselblad H3D 50, 80mm lens, flash, gold paint, gloves and Shovel!!

I have to admit I felt rather nervous as I approached the field of play, paranoid you might say. I felt as if I was being followed, being watched, surveilled by some dark dank force.

I approached the stool and took out my spray can and started to spray giving it a good solid coat.

I fired up my camera and flash and started to shoot, I was feeling the world closing down on me and even as there was no one around could feel my presence being observed by some horrible and remote person who was judging me and my actions, so i moved quickly.  Shot, got the shove picked up the Poo and moved the few metres to the council bin, dropped it in and put the now contaminated shovel in a plastic bag.

I was shocked when i got home to find that the paint had not cured on the poo and only the ground had got a good coat of golden paint and this put a stop to my overzealous plans to bring the powers that be too boot.

So I reverted to my previous good news only position, but swore I would learn a little more about the substances i was dealing with and how they wold react with the air and other materials they came into contact with.....

And of course we must also remember that no experience is lost on us and every little event is a means to incrementally advance our knowledge!





 

Monday, 23 November 2020

In some ways it was great already!


 As I move on  through this Pecious Silver Process   I am discovering the depth of meaning beyond the object that is captured within the image, I know this sounds a little hard to touch, but if I allow myself the space to explain this to myself, we may all be able to move forward from this point with a little insight.

 So Let me explain, This work  is made to examine optically, and on a precious material(type 55 Polaroid), objects that hold a particular value to me, (beyond a monetary value).

This particular piece, is for me the symbol of the darkroom, a fine piece of engineering,  and a physical reminder of a very special time in my life when I discovered photography. When I was in the school darkroom processing film and the Gralab let out its piercing buzz, there was no doubt it was time for you to retrieve your film or at least move on to the next part of the process.

But this particular clock bought by me to replace a now defunct clock in another college darkroom where I now officiate, has proven to me to be a touchstone for a whole different set of experiences. It embodies for me my own experiences of the U.S.A. what it has become and how it may progress.

 Firstly I bought the 1970's clock on a visit to the U.S.A. in 2014 in a shop  which in 2020 was set on fire during the the 2020 Chicago riots,The Chicago Sun, reported , Chicago’s iconic Central Camera Company store was damaged in a fire amid wide-spread protests and property damage downtown Saturday over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. 

The clock was manufactured in the  heartland of the American indusrial mid-west  in Ohio and here in lies the knub of my clocks hidden story and it is this  which fascinates me.

{The Dimco Gray Company  of Ohio is located in  one of the mid-west states , as one website put it,  that was Once recognized as the industrial heartland, the region has experienced a sharp downturn in industrial activity from the increased cost of domestic labor, competition from overseas, technology advancements replacing workers, and the capital intensive nature of manufacturing. The fortunes of this industrial heartland of America shifted between the 1950s and 1970s when the region's dominant industries faced minimal competition. Powerful labor unions in the automotive and steel manufacturing sectors ensured labor competition stayed to a minimum. As a result, many of the established companies had very little incentive to innovate or expand productivity. This came back to haunt the region when the United States opened trade overseas and shifted manufacturing production to the south.}

The Dimco Gray company managed to escape this downturn, and when faced with going out of business in the eighties a worker buyout saved and turned the fortunes of the company around in a few years.

 This is not the story I am used to telling myself about America and American Manufacturing, My story is the one where rich investors trade in shares of all American companies - trying to squeeze out of them all of their worth, Not really caring where the product base originates does not negatively imapact the bottom line.  The Shareholder profit motive  facilitates a certain fluidity where large American corporations move their capital around the globalised world seeking profit, only to benefit these shareholders - not really caring what carnage is left in the wake of opening up manufacturing in ever cheaper,  sometimes even unregulated production facilities - etc. etc etc. All the time driving the thin wedge of earnings upwards towards the one percent, as the only motive to succeed is to generate profits. 

But it is not all black and white so to speak, in every situation there is nuance, subtle hues through the gray areas from the whitest whites to the darkest black, are in fact what reveal the true depth of a scene, and the Dimco Gray company exist in this space. Now that I know a little more about them    I can clearly see how attached I have become to this item, especially as I can see that their focus is not to earn  dollars for faceless shareholders. This solitary fact makes  my feelings for this classic version of their Gralab timer, makes me glow more now more  then ever.                Especially when I hear the foghorn of its alarm buzzing through my head to tell me the the minutes have have elapsed on this over 50 year old piece of American Darkroom History!

That is the message I see deep in this photograph,   and because I bought it at the Central Camera Company Which has since been burned down, I am reminded that the American society is now deeply troubled. I hope that in the years to come it can start to heal  and what motivates American society in general can be a force like that of the Dimco Gray workers, who invested in themselves for the good of their community.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

O MY ANOTHER MFOT!

 


 Earlier on this blog there was a post called a short essay on overspin. in this post I tried to show how  a good news story could be made from the most mundane event, ( a habit of the government of that  time) In the post I argued that ( amongst other things), the appearance of a potted palm on the Western Way in 2012 was a sign of economic recovery. I was shocked over the last year or so to see more and more of these plants around the town the next in worse state then the last. It now appears the pots have been gathered up and deposited in one site and this as a direct result of a global pandemic.

 

 The scientific community  look to the trafficking of the pangolin as the host of a bat virus that jumped to a human strain now known as covid 19 or corona virus.
It was  internationally spread from Wuhan in China by  human travel.
Its route to Ireland was manifold  and it may have traveled from China, Italy,  and Singapore initially as well as some other well documented routes. From my reading of the situation International travel will  be the cause of this viral infections longevity.
The effects of this virus have been far reaching and wide, not least it has so far taken the lives of 1,777 people who got in its way in the Rep. of Ireland and 848,000 people word wide.
Needless to say it has to be halted and to date the majority of the population have followed the  recommendations of the Irish Government in this regard, who follow the advice of local health experts and the World Health Organisation. My post here has no wish to deflect from the gravity of this situation. But I could not help but notice the shabby and crass nature of one  manifestation of my local councils response to covid 19. In fact I feel that it could be argued that the particular visuals facilitated by these council actions shows a lack of respect to those who have suffered the effects of this virus.




                                                                                                                                                           


So, here I am speaking of the Dublin City Council Covid Mobility Team who have engineered  mobility solutions which aid peoples travels around its  physical area of responsibility. A noble aspiration which they describe the following way, (their objectives I have described above)

The measures developed in response to these objectives are being introduced to respond to a new and unprecedented emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.  They are being implemented on a temporary basis to respond to the urgent and immediate needs of the city.  They will be reviewed periodically to assess their effectiveness and, because of their nature and type of implementation, can be modified as needed to respond to changing needs and requirements.

In Grangegorman  Dublin 7 they have erected a road block described as Filtered permeability, in their words, 






Filtered permeability is effectively a ‘cycle gate’-cyclists are able to travel through the ‘cycle gate’but other  vehicles cannot. Implementation  of  filtered  permeability  will  not result  in  any changes to existing footpath facilities.  The  filtered  permeability  trial  on Grangegorman  Lower is  due  to  commence  on 6  July  2020. The  measure  will  use  bollards  to  prevent  motorised  through  traffic  in  order  to  create  a pedestrian  and  cycle  friendly  zone  and  a  safer  space  for  local  residents  and  for  thousands  of pedestrians and cyclists arriving at TUD from September 2020.

In their description in documentation there is no reference to the means of negating the existing parking bays on the very wide concourse outside the HSE Building which was at one time the centre piece of the Grangegorman  complex. (It is only these particular measures I am referring to here). 

It is achieved by the combination of a new set of 24hour clearway signs, and a bunch of dishevelled  potted palms that have seen better days( since their first sightings in 2012), The already generous footpaths have been extended onto the road and marked out with a row of new luminous stick bollards. 
                                                                               


This now large open space can only be described as the  proverbial ‘Dogs Dinner’ and the lack of though by those who designed this feature leaves the council open to accusations of shoddy practices. When the dust settles and the area is a bustling concourse full of local and student life I sincerely hope that some better street furniture is chosen. Something  that may synergise with the fine design and restoration already evident on the Grangegorman site.


Saturday, 15 August 2020

Back on the block at davidmonahan.eu

  




There is no doubt about it, the world twists, it turns, things mutate, todays critical discourses are not the exchanges we were having six months ago. There is no doubt that from month  to month society is consumed by one subject or another and when the dust settles it always appears that most of the time spent paying attention to an unfolding narrative, was wasted time. Remember the Millenium Bug, or perhaps Brexit. They held our thoughts and were a major item of public discourse for years but now the story of Brexit seems to be disappearing from the everyday news as fast as that Bug story did at 12:01 on  January 1st  2000. 

There is a lot wrong with our world and a lot of it centres around divisions and polarities within peoples. Without getting into the whys and wherefores  of political and economic systems, we must look to ourselves to create a small world around our own personal contacts. We should do this with a humanity that exudes love, kindness, equality, all the time remaining curious about what we can do to build  better relationships with the world around us. Don't leave it up to the political classes, craft your own special relationships with all of those you come into contact with. Remain open to learn from others and give freely through positive actions.

One step on my continuing creative trajectory towards this goal is the creation of a new personal website at davidmonahan.eu

Above is the first photograph you will encounter on this new site.
It may take a few weeks for the data on this new site to overwrite the old data on the original David Monahan site but all should be good in a few weeks. And so 
I start to build and I hope the site will change frequently to mirror my own personal growth as I share our now smaller world..... its almost lilliputian!





  

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Blues Singer Puts it up to Us




About a year ago my brother Ian played me a track he was working on, he had recorded the piece with Dublin Blues Legend Ditch Cassidy.  Ians last outing with Ditch spawned the rough and tumble 'We Built This House' A track about the financial collapse of 2007/8 which was used for the titles in Donald Taylor Blacks' excellent Feature film  Doc 'Skin in the Game' Which also featured musical contributions from Christy Moore and Barry Mc Cormack
I knew when I heard it it was some thing very special.
Around summertime we set about making a video for it, Earlier in the year I had an idea about a mysterious man in a white suit which I though might work for this presentation.
The Idea to build a sense of intrigue through sound and vision is played out  in this video,
For me it works so well, who is he, how does he relate to the singer, how does he relate to the allusions of the song and where will he take us.
Any how Ian has chosen now to release this song on youtube, and because of its spiritual nature this is probably the ideal time for this release. In order for it to succeed and raise the profile of this fantastic singer to the national level he deserves this project needs your shares.
Please go to the youtube page direct from this link and follow the links to embed  and share the work in your social networking feeds.

I will keep you all posted on where the work takes us.
Loads of love to you all,
David

Monday, 22 April 2019

CROSSING THE STREET # 2

I was delighted last week to meet with Lucky Khambule  a man who now lives in the town of Arklow, co Wicklow. Lucky was1.5 years in ‘direct provision’ before been given’ leave to remain’ in Ireland by the department of Justice. Lucky is a very striking presence who carries himself with dignity, respect for all and concern for those who remain in the unfortunate and unnecessary regime that limits their potential by means denying basic human rights.