Yakuza exhibit - first concepts

Hi. I've een working on a first Yakuza exhibit concept. I started out sketching by hand and then taking pictures at the actual location, but constantly going up and down to measure, make new pictures, adjust the sketch, became too time-consuming. The sketches would always lack a sense of proportion: I would e.g. have no idea how large or small an image should be printed to fit a wall in a balanced way, or what would be an ideal viewing distance for any given size.

So I forced myself to make time to learn the basics of 3D architectural modeling (I basically downloaded Google SketchUp and watched all the tutorials). It took a long time to get going, and it's quite crude, but as soon as I'd created the room in the right proportions, it became amazing how easy it was to virtually hang images on the walls, put people in the rooms, and see what the impact would be on the space the images were in, make them bigger or smaller, hang them up a little higher, work with different levels,... In a flash, this tool had become indispensable for me to test all my concepts in many more ways than I ever could do before.

Yakuza C-mine exhibit - sketch

Yakuza C-mine exhibit - beginning edit & layout

Of course to actually sketch out ideas quickly, using 3D is way too slow. For that I will always use pencil and paper and actual tiny prints of my images stuck on a huge page across the whole table... and when I feel an idea that I sketched might just be possible in real life, only then do I go to the 3D environment to actually draw it in detail to see how it holds up. And only if it holds up there, I can start dreaming of the possibility of actually producing...

Another benefit of 3D is being able to show different views. Even though my concept is far from finished, I was able to show the gallery director a walkthrough and the different rooms and basically show whatever she needed to see. She loved it.

But I've still got a long way to go. As you can see, the digital model is still quite empty besides the "hallway"... and I might even change my mind on that one :-)

I'll talk more about the schematics of the room next time, as well as my concept... I just have to work a little more to be able to show you some clearer visuals. But up to now the installation seems to be quite cost efficient, portable, and modular as well; so it could fit it into different shaped or sized locations... because you never know what the future brings...

ps. don't worry about the actual image edit (if you can recognize any of the images anywhere), it's likely to change a million times between now and next week :-)

How do you guys go about sketching an exhibit?

Have a great day today,

a

Yakuza exhibit concept - screenshot

Yakuza exhibit concept - screenshot

Yakuza exhibit concept - screenshot

A Little Glow in the Dark - the Balancing Act

Anyone who knows me, knows I'm always open to meaningful collaborations. Primarily as a photographer of course, but also, in other ways, in projects I simply believe in. For example, for BURN Magazine I designed and built the website, and collaborate closely with David Alan Harvey all the time. I speak to him almost daily as a creative consultant for anything that comes up. We do cool things together. And he's my mentor. Plus, most importantly, we've become great friends in the process. I don't think it's farfetched to say that both David and I are having a noticeable effect on each others' lives, and support each other's careers with great faith. ---

Meet Luc:

Luc Gijbels by Anne Platje

Luc Gijbels by Anne Platje

Luc and I, being business partners and close close friends for over eleven years now, know what it means to collaborate intensely. We've proven ourselves over and over to each other for over a decade. We work together perfectly in the web design company we founded. We know that we can depend on each other, and we know what the other is made of. We trust each other blindly. Maybe most importantly: we can stand each other's presence for 16+ hours a day when the going gets tough :-)

The Story

About a year ago, Luc started talking about a new art project he was shooting and writing, called "A Little Glow in the Dark".

In "A Little Glow in the Dark", Luc tells a story about life lines. He believes that every human being is born naked and slowly builds up what are about 200 meaningful connections with others throughout his life. Everyone has a personal yarn ball that can only unwind, never to be wound up again... thick or thin, short or long, you don't know when it will be over or what you leave behind. And as everyone unwinds, we all become entangled, literally strung together, connected in one way or the other.

In a way, "A Little Glow in the Dark" is a story about relationships. A story about mutual respect. A story about being intimately connected during this singular and spectacular journey we call life. A story about choices and dreams. And a story about what we leave behind when our yarn is unwound... will it all have been worth it?

To make this happen, Luc went to South Africa and re-enacted "life" for seven intense weeks, the decor being the Nyanga Township, several miles of white knitting yarn, and 200 local township kids. He built up meaningful relationships and created art together with them... and he documented the process along the way.

The Collaboration

He came back and showed me the story, his intentions, his aspirations. He showed me the work he had done. I said I'd love to be a part of shaping and bringing this story to life. And given our history together we both knew this could be done.

So I'm joining forces with him yet again... To design and create two books with his work. To talk about the story. To help give back to the local community of Nyanga. Because I deeply believe in him and in the story he wants to tell.

And for some reason, I know the books are gonna be fantastic. I just feel it in my guts. I'm confident the concept is strong and I feel the story needs to be told. I've seen the quality and sheer amount of visuals that he has created. I'm proud to be part of it, and yes, I can't wait to talk about this one over the next coming months....

A Little Glow in the Dark - Luc Gijbels

A Little Glow in the Dark - Luc Gijbels

A Little Glow in the Dark - Luc Gijbels

A Little Glow in the Dark - Luc Gijbels

These are two samples of the images he made. Tiny, little pieces of the puzzle. I promise, you'll soon see the depth and breadth of this project unfold. Once in a while, I'll be talking right here about everything, and of course more regular project updates will be talked about on alittleglowinthedark.com. Luc and I will be designing and producing the books and everything surrounding it, the dummies, the handling, the printing, right here for everyone to see.

Super exciting... :-)

---

The Balancing Act

Of course, my own photography stays on track and (hopefully) continues to grow. For those who've been following, new chapters on Dislocate are being made as we speak, and another deeply moving trip for Heavens is being planned for the fall... Yakuza of course has the solo exhibit in spring 2013, which I'm sketching now, and also Sugar might even have a little surprise in store... more on all this soon.

Over the years I've come to learn that the "natural" rhythm of every single project I'm doing (and every single project that I'm involved in) always seems to be totally unique. for me, the art is to be able to not only find and respect those rhythms, but also to balance them all in the best possible way in the rest of my life, mainly trying not to "urge overkill". In a way, to find projects that naturally fit into my life, as opposed to trying to press(ure) projects into my life, let alone trying to press my life into any project. There are so many wonderful and interesting things to do in a lifetime.

I'm really glad I can balance between Dislocate, A Little Glow in the Dark, BURN Magazine, Yakuza, Heavens, and Sugar. And along the way, in turn, each will get center stage, and hopefully, every time one is finished, another will take over or a new thing will simply appear. In a way I feel that working at this kind of finding and balancing, is key.

Oh, and also: always be prepared to leave behind interesting things that don't work out. Hmmm. Might be interesting to write something about this too...

Stay tuned for more. Really. I have a feeling that Yakuza was just the beginning.

Question: how do you all manage the balancing act of everything interesting going on in your life? Do you let a lot of outside pressure in? What would you define as outside pressure and what not? Would, or should, income and security have a big impact on choices?

YAKUZA exhibit in C-mine, Genk (BE) - 2013

YAKUZA exhibit in C-mine - Genk (BE) - 2013 So here is the big news... my first YAKUZA solo exhibit has just been confirmed for spring 2013.

And it's one hell of a unique location... the former Winterslag coal mine now-converted-to-cool-cultural-centre C-mine... A long time ago, this was also the coal mine my late grandfather and godfather (not Antoine, but Bert) worked in.

I now have exactly 11 months to prepare. It seems like a long time, but in reality it's not.... I'll be drawing concepts, making scale models, test prints, paper types, and sketching like hell. And the edit and sequencing of course will be crucial... and the production of the artwork itself will take several months... not to mention producing the installation itself.

I think I've got some cool things in mind as to how I'd like to approach this, and the next conversations with C-mine will determine the feasibility of what's inside my head. They loved the initial concept, so hopefully it'll work out the way I'm envisioning it.

I'll be talking about every step of the way right here, building the concept online, and letting it grow from idea to sketch to model to reality... a careful deliberate journey, and hopefully mucho fun!

I just visited the location, and I've got a whopping 450 m2 (about 1,500 sq ft) at my disposal.

really excited...

 

a

 

Slowly shaping Heavens

The Blank Canvas (comp) - en route to Auschwitz - 2012 That evening, I set out to drive 1.100 kilometres to photograph forty-eight blue skies. I was to be a first grand field test for Heavens.

I've been told that a good visual story is one that leaves sufficient "blanks" so the viewer can fill in and latch on... Not leave too little to the imagination, but also not leave too much; try to make it just right.

In this case, wanting to photograph 1,634 abstract blue skies seemed to be a little over the top: the idea is actually so abstract that it simply leaves everything to the imagination. Even photography itself. I'd be demanding a lot from the viewer. The work becomes a very, very delicate bubble in support of the story, even if it was quite deliberately done that way...

But might it be just too thin? Will it hold? The heaviest of stories paired with the simplest of photographs?

It seems like I might be venturing off into installation territory for this one. Not a bad thing per sé, not bad at all... but quite a break from my previous work, I must confess.

Reducing to the essence... Man, I don't think I've ever reduced anything to this extent.

That's the thought process I'm struggling with now: shaping Heavens into something possible. Because Heavens is me adding my little tiny drop, however small, to never forgetting the Holocaust. Because I believe we should not forget. And I'm scared that we might be. And if an installation turns out to be the best vehicle to bring this message across, well, then...

---

Hmmm... I just realize that the above might sound overly cryptic to everyone - maybe even to me. I guess I should describe the concept behind Heavens pretty soon. And show a photograph too.

First on my to do list. Promise.

 

But now, sun's setting, spring's started, evening's beautiful. Today's given, tomorrow's never promised. Enjoy the now.

a